An interception machine, Sharper picked off a league-high nine passes to bring his career total to a shining 63. Out of those nine picks, Sharper returned three of them for touchdowns, also the NFL lead. That is what I call a game-changer.
In 2010, however, the Saints benched Sharper following his return from offseason knee surgery. After selecting Malcolm Jenkins with the 14th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Saints thought he was ready to take over the starting job that Sharper had executed so brilliantly just a year before.
By no means am I saying that Jenkins was a bust. In fact, Jenkins was one of the best players on the Saints defense in 2010. However, there was not a chance that Jenkins brought to the table the same amount of play-making abilities that Sharper brought. You had to game-plan for Darren Sharper, Jenkins was a different story.
So in 2010, Sharper sat on the bench.
Now a free agent, the 35-year-old is still looking for a job. In one of the busiest free agency periods in NFL history, this talented safety is being left out, even by the team he helped earn a Super Bowl title just two seasons ago.
Here is the latest via ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas:
[Roman] Harper’s return also could signal the end of Darren Sharper's time in New Orleans. Signed in 2009, the veteran Sharper played a big role in the Saints winning the Super Bowl that season. But injuries kept him out of action much of last season and allowed Jenkins to establish himself as a solid starter.
Sharper still could return in a backup role, but he may prefer to go to a team where he has a chance to start.
I understand he is 35, but how is it possible that he is considered a backup right now? He is just two years removed from the most superb season of his career, and from what I can gather, has no lingering affects from his knee-surgery last offseason.
What am I missing?
I'm not sure, but the Arizona Cardinals should be jumping for joy right now. Their defensive leader and star safety, Adrian Wilson, went down with a torn bicep tendon in his right arm and is out for an indefinite period of time.
Looks like a match made in heaven to me.
This is what Jason La Canfora from NFL.com has to say about Sharper's options:
I’m told by a league source that veteran FS Darren Sharper is mulling multiple options on the free-agent market.
The Saints remain interested in Sharper, who engaged in a lengthy conversation with at least one other club, according to the source.
Sharper may have the opportunity to get more playing time elsewhere, but the Saints have a chance to win a Super Bowl and he has a strong relationship with coaches and teammates in New Orleans. Sharper, who joined the Saints as a free agent in 2009, was limited to eight games last season after major offseason knee surgery.
Maybe the Arizona Cardinals are one of those teams, and maybe they aren't.
But from where I am sitting, I don't see any reasons why the Cards don't offer Sharper a job right now. He's talented, experienced, and could bring leadership to a defense that lost its leader.
Like I said, match made in heaven.