Darren Sharper: A Necessity if You Still Need a Safety

Luke TaylorCorrespondent IIApril 30, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16:  Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints reacts after a defensive play that was negated due to an offensive penalty against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Saints won 45-14.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

As of today, Darren Sharper is still on the market.

Yesterday he visited Jacksonville, and he is expected to make several more visits as teams look to fill their voids at free safety.

Sharper was part of the New Orleans Saints team that captured the Super Bowl earlier in the year. He was an integral part of the side, but he was an unrestricted agent in the offseason, and his future with the Saints is still very much in question.

It was no secret that New Orleans wanted the veteran safety back. However, they wanted him back at their price.

Sharper, meanwhile, wanted to be showed some love. He didn't feel that love was being offered in New Orleans, so he began to look for employment outside Louisiana.

The 34-year-old has had an outstanding year. He was a selection to this year's Pro Bowl. He was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team from the 2000s. He secured his first Super Bowl ring.

However, it was his performance throughout last year that has led him to become one of the most coveted players in free agency.

Last season, he recorded nine interceptions. He also returned three of them for touchdowns, a career-high for Sharper. Going into his 13th year in the NFL, Sharper's productivity is getting better if anything. This is why teams in need of a safety must pull out all the stops to secure his services.

Sure, he's getting old. At 34, how many years does he have left?

However, while his performances are not declining, he would be a steal in free agency. Secondly, the experience that Sharper possesses would be useful in teaching a younger safety how to improve his game. This is very valuable, and learning from Sharper would be a great opportunity for any young safety.

Finally, he is not a long-term project. He is an established player of incredible quality. If a team could tie Sharper down to a one- or two-year contract, they would have a solution at the position for the next couple of years.

He wants respect. He wants a little extra cash. But he's damn sure that he's earned it with last year's performances, and very few people would argue with that.

Sharper might still be the best free safety in the NFL.

Securing his signature would be a major coup for any team. Now the Jaguars, Redskins, Dolphins, and Cowboys, look likely to fight it out for his services. New Orleans might have lost a key component of their Super Bowl winning team, and it could cost them dearly.

Now teams should pull out all the stops to sign Sharper. Whether its only for a year or two, he will offer more than nearly any other safety in the NFL, and that's why he should be viewed as a necessity for any team without a starting safety.

How he is still on the market is beyond most people. It's highly likely that by the end of next week he'll have found himself a home, but until that point, he must be the priority for teams without a safety.

Darren Sharper as a free agency signing? That would be one hell of a pickup.