The New Orleans Saints made a huge acquisition earlier tonight. Literally.
The addition of 340-pound defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who they signed to a one-year contract worth over $4 million, was a great way to start the offseason in New Orleans.
This move, which has the potential to pay dividends by the time the 2011 season is in the books, seems to have gotten overlooked by all of the hoopla we like to call the NFL draft.
Rogers, turning 32 in less than two weeks, is the opposite of taking a younger approach and improving via the draft, but it is a quick fix to a weakness in New Orleans. The running game was the Saints' Achilles heel in 2010. Excluding the turnovers of course, but that's a different story.
Lucky for New Orleans, its pass defense bailed the rest of the team out of tight situations, allowing the fourth-least passing yards per game, and just 13 touchdowns through the air all season (least amount in NFL).
If the Saints can bring back its 2010 defense, plus add a run-stopper with the size and ability of a healthy Shaun Rogers, just think of the possibilities for New Orleans. Of course an aging Darren Sharper isn't ideal for the pass defense, but if he can return to full health in 2011 there's no stopping this defense.
Good move for New Orleans in signing the 31-year old Rogers?
Rogers was the key factor in the run game for 10 seasons while playing in Detroit and Cleveland. The three-time Pro Bowler has recorded 37.5 sacks in 124 starts at tackle, meaning he's no slouch when it comes to bringing the quarterback to the ground, either.
Playing nose tackle for Cleveland’s 3-4 defensive scheme for the last three seasons, and Detroit's 4-3 scheme for the seven years before then, Rogers has been well-prepared to play as both a nose tackle and a defensive tackle and will likely be playing the latter of the two in Gregg Williams' scheme.
Recording 60 tackles at his position is unheard of in today's game, and Rogers did that not once but twice with Detroit and Cleveland. Not even tackles such as Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork came close to 60 tackles in a single season while in their prime as an interior lineman.
The one thing that scares me a bit with the big guy though, is the fact that he started just one game in 2010, and missed five additional games in 2009. If Rogers can return to his 2008 form, Sean Payton will be one happy man. But whether he’s healthy in 2011 or not, Rogers is a low-risk, high-reward scenario and any team looking to improve on run stopping would love to have him in uniform.
Rogers’ former head coach, Romeo Crennel (in Cleveland), tried to add him to his defense in Kansas City, but the Chiefs failed to do so. The fact that Rogers turned down both the Chiefs and Redskins, who offered him $2 million more, shows me that Rogers knows he is nearing the end of his career and wants to win a ring. It isn't about money for Rogers anymore, if it ever was to begin with.
No more cellar-dwelling for Rogers either, meaning he should finally get a little more recognition for what he has done throughout his career in the league. He will finally know what it feels like to win football games.