Forget about the Super Bowl, and forget about the Draft. Darren Sharper needs our attention.
It comes as a shock to me that I even have to write this piece, but the simple fact that has been brought to my attention is that the New Orleans Saints haven't been fast in re-signing unrestricted free agent Darren Sharper this offseason, and that calls for a cause of concern.
Sharper, who was arguably one of the key reasons that New Orleans even made the Super Bowl in the first place, capped off an impressive 2009 campaign with nine interceptions and 71 tackles, which are impressive stats for a guy who only a year ago was a Minnesota Viking.
This time, though, Sharper has a team that is firmly interested in what he has to offer. Although the Saints have appeared reluctant to resign the 12 year pro, perhaps the mere though of letting Darren Sharper go to the rest of the willing 31 teams draws the attention of Sean Payton.
Still, there is no time for a lazy attitude in the land of the NFL. Darren has become familiar with finding new homes in his much storied career, which has taken him north and south to the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and now the New Orleans Saints.
The point of this article, though, is not to sum up how much Darren Sharper needs New Orleans. No, it is quite the opposite. The bottom line is that the Saints need Darren Sharper, and they need him badly.
Rewind to 2008. A mediocre Saints team will appear fresh in your memory, and you may recall the late season collapse of New Orleans as they missed the playoffs and were sent packing to the local nine hole golf course with a lousy 8-8 record.
Saints fans were mad, as Carolina and Atlanta seemed to be clear favorites to win the NFC South for years to come. Things changed, though, and eventually Darren Sharper was brought to the side. Estimates were made, but no one knew for sure just how much of an impact that full safety would have on a struggling Saints defense.
Luckily, Sharper's presence seemed to be the talking point, and the "leader" type role was filled.
Now we're left with an even more controversial situation. Do the Saints see what they can get for Sharper? Or would it be wise to not even tempt fate?
I tend to agree with the second option. Although the Super Bowl seems like it is the turning point for the Saints organization, it really isn't. Yes, the trophy has finally returned to Bourbon Street, but does that really place New Orleans as the clear favorites in the NFC South for years to come?
The straight up answer to that question is no. It doesn't. With Michael Turner returning to the Atlanta Falcons fresh and healthy and the Carolina Panthers looking to do well in the Draft, the Saints may not have the cakewalk division they became so accustomed to in 2009.
Therefore, the importance of resigning Darren Sharper is huge, not only to keep the defense together, but to make sure that it doesn't collapse during the midway point of next season.
A Pro Bowl safety lost is a Pro Bowl safety gained for another team. Sean Payton and the entire Saints team can't afford to roll those dice. The Saints have improved immensely. Letting Sharper go would be a step in the opposite direction.
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