NFL Free Agency: 10 Players the New Orleans Saints Would Be Wise to Sign
Rejoice New Orleans Saints fans! The NFL Lockout is over at Day 132. With that comes the realization that front offices have a hay-day headed their way with a cram packed free-agency period. What generally happens in a matter of months will be squeezed into a few short days.
The Saints are a team that has very few glaring needs coming into this season. But they have shown in the past their willingness to go out and grab a player that can help them contend. Darren Sharper anyone? Major needs that I can see are all connected to one thing. PASS RUSH. As the league moves towards a more passing-oriented scheme, the ability to get after the quarterback is essential.
Let's take a look and the top 10 guys the Saints should go after in free agency to help them return to the Super Bowl. WHO DAT?!
Charles Johnson DE
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Charles Johnson is a huge athletic talent at the defensive end position. Even though the Saints drafted Cameron Jordan in the first round this spring, they can still use help at the position. Will Smith may be serving a four-game suspension to begin the year. That would force Jordan into action alongside Alex Brown.
Charles Johnson would provide a stop-gap while Smith is gone, and then he could take over the right side when he returns. Cam Jordan is a talented young man, but I believe he would be better off as a situational player his first year. Will Smith is clearly past his prime, and Johnson could take over his starting job. The combo of Johnson and Jordan would create the best pass-rushing DE duo in the league. You can bet that Sean Payton would rather have this guy on his side instead of harassing Brees.
Paul Posluszny LB
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The Saints clearly have a need for solid linebackers. Any fan who watched the wild-card playoff Lynch bonanza can attest to that. Jonathan Vilma is a savvy middle linebacker and one of the best in the league. Pairing him with Posluszny would create a impenetrable wall for any team's run game.
The Saints have a couple of young high-potential LBs that have been injured, who they would perform well with the leadership of Vilma and Posluszny, as well as being able to learn from them. Paul is a solid linebacker who can get after the quarterback but excels in stopping the run.
Sidney Rice WR
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Before you go crazy and start frantically commenting that I'm a nut, just here me out.
This deal may not be as far-fetched as it first appears. Sidney Rice is sick of underachieving quarterback play and liked what he had when (gulp) Brett Favre was at the helm. He was able to show his talent and was a top wideout threat.
The Saints are considered to have one of the league's top wide receiving corps. While I agree with this, they could use another playmaker. Marques Colston is as reliable a receiver as there is in the NFL. However, he lacks elite speed to get down the field.
Enter Sidney Rice.
He is a quick, tall receiver and could really stretch the defense and open up things for Jimmy Graham and the running game.
Ray Edwards DE
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Ray Edwards is probably the most likely option for the Saints in terms of signing a defensive end. The Saints are already set with their starters at the position, as it looks like Cameron Jordan will be thrown into the fire, so to speak.
Edwards is more experienced and proven at the position than Charles Johnson. He has not put up a 10-sack season yet but has proved to be above average when placed in the right system. He would be able to come in and rotate with Will Smith and Cam Jordan, as well as be a good mentor for Jordan. Edwards has been linked to the Atlanta Falcons, and I would love to see him end up with the Saints rather than the birds.
Rocky McIntosh LB
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Continuing with the linebacker theme here. Rocky McIntosh is an underrated inside backer for the Washington Redskins. He is big and tough and has a nose for the ball. That is exactly what the Saints need at the position.
Many see him as one-dimensional because of his limited ability in pass coverage. But the Saints already have one of the best secondaries in the league. McIntosh would be free to float the field and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Personally, I see Rocky as the best fit for the Saints and as the top free agent they should target.
D'Qwell Jackson LB
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One more linebacker, folks. D'Qwell Jackson is an under-the-radar free agent this season. In his first three seasons, he had more than 90 tackles each year—154 in 2009. Obviously this guy is a tackling machine. He has not played since he was injured in 2009. But I can see him returning and being just as good as he used to be.
It may end up taking a big paycheck to get him away from the Cleveland Browns, as they will likely want him back. But he would be well worth the cash. He is solid in pass coverage but would excel at rushing the quarterback and dropping running backs in the backfield in Greg Williams' system.
Malcom Floyd WR
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Let me just say that adding Malcom Floyd to the Saints' offense would push them over the top. Floyd is a huge target and is similar to Marques Colston. The difference is that he has great body control and contains elite speed that would be able to stretch the field. A duo of Colston and Floyd with Lance Moore in the slot and Graham at tight end would prove unstoppable.
The San Diego Chargers have telegraphed that they would rather keep Vincent Jackson than Floyd, if it came down to it. While Floyd may be enticed to go to another team where he could be the top option, I think he would rather play for a contender and with quarterback Drew Brees. Sean Payton loves new offensive toys in his system, and Floyd is a guy that Payton would love to have.
Roman Harper SS
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Roman Harper is one of the best strong safeties in the game today, period. Many fans seem to think he is inadequate after his playoff struggle against the Seattle Seahawks. But before that, Harper led the team in tackles as well as forced fumbles.
Without him in the lineup, the secondary would crumble, and the run defense would have been paltry. That is how essential he is to Greg Williams' scheme. Roman Harper should be free-agent priority No. 1 for the Saints.
Lance Moore WR
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Lance Moore is the definition of underrated. He has quietly been the Saints' go-to guy and the most consistent receiver for Drew Brees. Yes, over Colston.
In my honest opinion, he is the best slot receiver in the game behind Wes Welker. In any other system that does not spread the ball around like the Saints do, Moore would be a top 20 receiver. He is Drew's favorite target and Sean Payton knows he has to keep his quarterback happy.
While pushed into a starting role against the Falcons last season, we were able to see what Moore is capable of, putting up six catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns. We need to keep this guy.
David Thomas TE
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David Thomas is arguably the most versatile player on the Saints' roster. He is a great blocker and a solid pass-catcher, regularly being a safety net for Brees. He can be split out wide as a receiver but can also line up at fullback. In the Saints' 2009 Super Bowl run, Thomas played fullback almost the whole year and was dominant.
With the departure of Jeremy Shockey and fullback Heath Evans on the decline, David Thomas will be asked to do more this season than he has before. He has been a great mentor for Jimmy Graham and will be a great option opposite him. David Thomas is quite possibly the most integral player in the Saints' offense besides Drew Brees.You won't find another tight end in the league with Thomas' abilities.