Contract: Four years, $14 million, $6 million guaranteed
Look at the contract above. It doesn't seem like much, and it certainly isn't a figure that will set your franchise back if the player fails. But with the new salary cap, every last penny counts, and the Saints wasted a good chunk of pennies with their signing of scatback Darren Sproles.
Sproles, the third-down back in San Diego, is now a small part of a very deep group of running backs. Veteran Pierre Thomas will begin the season as the starter; the team invested a first round pick in Mark Ingram, so it's fair to expect him to get a good amount of playing time.
Chris Ivory, the starter for the tail end of 2010, is injured, but when he returns, he expects to step back into his responsibility as one of the team's primary ball carriers. Where, then, does that leave Sproles?
He'll likely be relegated to a special teams role as Ingram moves up the depth chart, and there isn't as much room for him to make an impact in the return game as there might have been in the past. The new kickoff rules have all but eliminated the significance of kick return specialists, and Lance Moore has pretty much entrenched himself as the team's punt returner.
In summary, the Saints paid second-string money to a guy who will be playing third fiddle all season. Not smart money management.