Two out of four of New Orleans runningbacks from their Super Bowl roster are free agents. Add to that fact that one is severely overpaid and the other, well we really don't know that much about. As it seems, New Orleans will be concentrating mostly on defense this offseason. Although rumors about Drew Brees and Ladainian Tomlinson have surfaced, most fans suggest keeping who they have and moving forward.
That's not entirely a bad idea, but it's not the best idea. Their "three headed monster" rushing attack was fairly productive but also had to deal with missing time due to injury from a few players. As long as Reggie Bush is part of that equation, it will probably always be that way.
Other rumors have been that Bush will be traded or released if they can't restructure his current contract. Bush is due $8 million in 2010 and will put him as the highest paid runningback in the NFL. That's a lot of money for a guy who only plays sparingly. Bush did have a career season as a rusher but no one really got to see any sort of consistency due his constant nagging injuries.
Pierre Thomas probably will not be going anywhere. The deadline for free agent tenders is coming up fast and we should hear something soon. Thomas started off the '09 season with an injury but returned and played pretty solid the rest of the season rushing for 793 yards with an average of 5.4 ypc and 6 td's. He also had 39 receptions for 302 yards and 2 td's. He's by far their most consistent back.
As stated earlier Reggie Bush had a career season on the ground with 390 yards with an average of 5.4 ypc and 5 td's. Coming out of the backfield Bush had 47 receptions for 335 yards and 4 td's. Bush was effective but only in spurts, as over a 14 game period he only averaged 5 carries per game.
Mike Bell got off to a great start in place of Pierre Thomas. Unfortunately he cooled off toward the middle of the season and never fully returned to form. Bell rushed for 654 yards with an average of 3.8 ypc and 5 td's. Bell only had 2 receptions as he is not the better receiving option of the four. Just like Pierre Thomas, Bell was undrafted and signed with Denver to later be released before going to New Orleans. Bell's best season came in his rookie season in Denver where he rushed for 4.3 ypc and 8 td's compared to his 3.8 ypc and 5 td's in New Orleans. But everyone seems to praise him as if he's irreplaceable.
Lynell Hamilton, like Thomas and Bell is another undrafted player. He is also a free agent, along with Mike Bell. Hamilton didn't get much opportunity only carrying the ball 35 times over a 5 game span with an average of 7 carries per game. Hamilton posted 125 yards on an average of 3.6 ypc and 2 touchdowns. It's understandable that the opportunites were not there, but on the other hand there's no reason to say that they shouldn't upgrade or at least try to.
I have seen replies to other's talking about the Saints signing other free agent runningbacks and more than not people have been against it saying that Bell and Hamilton have done just fine. To me that doesn't make much since. Mainly as I already stated, Bell's best season was in Denver. But yet people are wanting to keep him because he had a few decent games when the Saints were up by 30 points in the fourth quarter. Not only that but no one was lobbying for Bell to come to New Orleans, because most of your average football fans didn't really know who he was. They're only judging him from a fan standpoint and not being realistic about it.
I can make the same case about Lynell Hamilton. He hasn't shown anything but yet people are taking up for him. Most of what is said about Reggie Bush is his contract and inability to stay on the field. He proved he could run up the middle, lower his shoulder, and play smarter. He's dangerous on special teams (to the Saints and opponents.). He's only worth keeping at the right price though. But they do need to try and keep him.
Here's the the real problem with some of these free agents this year. I'm not just talking about the backfield either. You have Lance Moore who is also a free agent. Guess what? He too was undrafted. It's hard to believe that 3 out of 4 runningbacks were undrafted. Amazing. Not only that but of the seven receivers on the depth chart two were undrafted (Moore/Harper) and two were 7th rd picks (Colston/Arrington). Another funny things is that people are trying to take up for Arrington who has never even seen the field.
So my question is this. Do the Saints have a trend when it comes to the offseason? What I mean is this...by selecting Marques Colston in the 7th round in 2006 and the emerging of Lance Moore somehow spark a trend to where they actually plan to rely on these over looked players? Or are they just that good? If they are then their earlier round picks should be so much better right? Hasn't been the case yet.
My point is that every single season, teams should continuously be trying to upgrade. Guy's like Hamilton and Bell, maybe even Bush salary-wise can be replaced. Pierre Thomas isn't irreplaceable but of the four he's the one they should focus on keeping. Guy's like Lance Moore may not cost that much, but at the same time there are guys that most coaches would rather have. Maybe not most fans and that is exactly the problem. They are looking through the wrong eye's. Be realistic and not a fan. That's what you have to do to see the truth. Ladainian Tomlinson is an upgrade over Bell and Hamilton, probably just in blocking and receiving duties alone. Not just Tomlinson. There are some young players coming in to the draft and there are some capable free agents that would be solid upgrades.
In short, keep Thomas, get rid of Bell, restructure Bush's contract (If not, trade/release him) and bring in competition for possible upgrades whether it be through draft of free agency. Just because they won a Super Bowl and have had a top offense for years doesn't mean they shouldn't try to get better in ALL positions. Teams should always be looking to get better in every way.