For more than four months, the New Orleans Saints have been shackled.
The Saints, being the Super Bowl champions that they are, qualified as one of the eight teams whose movement in free agency was severely restricted.
Basically, a rule stated that in an uncapped year the top eight teams in the NFL could not sign an unrestricted free agent until they lost one of their own that was of equal of lesser value.
So when the Cleveland Browns signed Scott Fujita for three years and $14 million, the Saints were able to sign free agents for equal or less than that total.
Thanks to a rule that reclassified many free agents from unrestricted to restricted, this has been perhaps the worst class of free agency since the NFL adopted it in 1993, so the Saints really haven't missed out on too much.
On Thursday, July 22, the Saints will be set free.
Their first order of business appears to be solidifying the backup quarterback spot, and it appears the Saints will sign local boy and NFL journeyman, Patrick Ramsey.
Let's face it. If Brees goes down for a big chunk of the season or at any point suffers a season-ending injury, the Saints can kiss their hopes of repeating goodbye.
But's what if Brees goes down for a half or even a game or two?
The Saints have enough talent to survive without Brees for a short period of time if the right man is under center.
Second-year player Chase Daniel and newly signed draft pick Sean Canfield are on the roster, but I don't think the Saints feel comfortable handing over the keys to the offense to guys who have never taken an NFL snap.
Ramsey, a former first round pick of the Redskins, spent his first four seasons in Washington before making stops as a backup in New York, Denver, Tennessee, and Detroit.
Ramsey appears to be an upgrade over the Saints' recent No. 2 quarterbacks, at least in terms of age.
Mark Brunell and Jamie Martin each held the position as Brees' backup for two seasons. Both were in their late 30's at the time and looked mediocre at best in their limited playing time.
Ramsey is just 30 days older than Brees and has several prime clipboard-holding years left.
Given his NFL experience, Ramsey would have to completely fall apart in training camp to lose the backup position. That leaves Daniel and Canfield to battle it out for the third and final quarterback spot.
The Saints begin training camp on July 29.
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