The Saints have officially grabbed veteran strong safety Darren Sharper off the market. Rumors are indicating it to be a two year deal worth $6.5 million, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
Sharper started his career as a Green Bay Packer. He didn't really break into the scene until 2000 where he intercepted nine passes and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. His second trip to the Pro Bowl came two years later, adding seven more interceptions.
He was a steady force on a tough Green bay defense for eight years. After the 2004 season, Sharper was allowed to test free agency where the Vikings immediately snagged him.
Sharper enjoyed his first year in Minnesota, earning his third trip to the Pro Bowl intercepting nine passes for a league high 276 yards and two touchdowns. He would make his fourth Pro Bowl the following year in 2006.
After the 2006 season, Sharper started criticizing the Vikings defensive scheme. In 2007, Sharper enjoyed another decent season, but was falling out of touch with the defensive coaches. He would finish the year with four interceptions, but his play was obviously declining.
This last season was without a doubt the worst season in Sharper's career, only intercepting one pass. His leadership skills were unparalleled to any other Viking defender, but he couldn't offer much of anything else.
As time went on, Sharper wasn't able to make his seemingly-routine flashy plays. He struggled to defend the pass, finding himself out of position on a routine basis.
Sharper ended his career as a Vikings with eighteen interceptions and 250 tackles in four years.
Playing on the same side as Antoine Winfield may have prolonged his career and extra year or two. Winfield, one of the leagues premier shutdown corners, isn't thrown to a lot. He finally earned his much deserved first trip to the Pro Bowl last season.
Sharper won't get the oppurtunity to play with a top defender like Winfield. This should open up more plays for Sharper to prove that he can indeed still play the game.
In the 2008 draft, the Vikings selected safety Tyrell Johnson in the second round to be Sharper's replacement in the future. Johnson found himself starting six games in place of injured Madieu Williams. His play was typical of a rookie, jumping on plays too early. However, he showed tremendous tackling ability.
The signing of Sharper by the Saints brings strong leadership qualities to a terrible pass defense. He will make an impact on the Saints defense. His knowledge is vast, but his reflexes aren't what they used to be.
Will the Vikings really miss this guy? He was good, don't get me wrong, but this is one Vikings fan who is happy to see him go. Not happy because he wasn't flashy his final year in Minnesota, but happy that he gets to leave the NFC North where he has spent his entire career.
Tyrell Johnson is a very fast safety who deals devastating blows to defenders. He gets caught out of position a lot, but his speed will make up for some of his mistakes. He should help people forget about their beloved leader.
People in Minnesota will forget about Sharper. They are too focused on their defensive line to care about their secondary. It's a shame to see a guy like Sharper go. He was an amazing leader who played his heart out every play.
So the answer to my question is, "Yes, he will he be missed." Good luck Sharper and may your career end with a trip to Canton.