Jamaal Brown- They must keep Brown, even though Jermon Bushrod did fine in his absence, Brown plays a big part of keeping Drew Brees upright.
Jermon Bushrod- Bushrod played well and proves that depth on the line can be rewarding.
Jahri Evans- Evans plays another big part of protecting the Super Bowl MVP.
Pierre Thomas- The only solid and consistent runningback New Orleans has on the roster. He plays a huge part on their ground attack and passing attack.
Courtney Roby- Roby isn't the best receiver on the team but plays a big part on special teams.
David Thomas- With Jeremy Shockey's injury history, Thomas plays a big role in filling in the tight end position.
Roman Harper- With the help of Darren Sharper playing middle field, Harper was allowed to do what he does best which is blitz and tackle. Although weak at coverage ability, Harper is a guy they need to keep.
Anthony Hargrove- Hargrove came in to the 2009 as an experiment and proved that he could still play and as far as most are concerned, has redeemed himself from his troubled past.
The rest of New Orleans' free agents in my opinion are not needs. Guy's like Lance Moore and Darren Sharper are nice to have but they can live without them. Moore is a decent receiver but didn't do as much in 2009 as in 2008 when filling in for an injured Marques Colston. He battled an injury most of the season but the truth is that the Saints only have one true every down receiver and that's Colston.
Most will argue about Darren Sharper. Sharper came in and played a big part in the teams defense but he's not a guy I would consider re-signing for more than one year. The rumor is that New Orleans is not placing the fanchise tag on Sharper that will cost right at $6 million in the uncapped season of 2010. But the truth is that Malcom Jenkins will be replacing Sharper at free safety. They are going to allow Sharper to test the free agent market, but will still try and sign him at the right price, according to a team source.
New Orleans biggest needs are on defense, but they still need a little help on offense. They need to get a better pass rush. Will Smith was the Saints only pass rusher to speak of this past season. Greg Williams stated himself that they do not have the pass rush or the personnel to run his typical defensive schemes, which is why they had to concentrate so much on trying to force turnovers.
They also need to get younger, faster, and better at the outside linebacker position. Between Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita, they both have lost a step or two and have trouble staying on the field. They need more speed at the position to cover runningbacks out of the backfield and to get to the edge and stop the run.
Believe or not they also need help at receiver. Marques Colston is the only fairly solid receiver they have. Robert Meachem still only plays a handful of snaps every game. Devery Henderson's role has increased slightly but is not a guy most would want opposite of Colston. Lance Moore is a decent slot receiver, but it wouldn't be too hard to find an upgrade.
Although it looks like the Saints will not trade away Reggie Bush and will retain Pierre Thomas, they do need depth at the running back position. Bush is not the most reliable back, health-wise. He seems to tweak something or sustain some sort of injury in every game. Pierre Thomas also started the season with an injury and Mike Bell played well in his place at the start but struggled there after his return.
That leads to my curiosity to why they didn't fanchise Darren Sharper. Even though in an un-capped season, could it be that they want to use the money to sign another runningback? Like Ladainian Tomlinson? Then try and sign Sharper to a lower multi-year deal? Over the past few years Sean Payton has continuously tried to find a short yardage back. I also believe that Tomlinson will want to go to a winning team, due to his lack of post-season success and re-uniting with Drew Brees.
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