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The Benefit of the Doubt: New Orleans Saints Too Sharp to Let Darren Depart

Randy SavoieAnalyst IIMarch 13, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 02:  Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints speaks to members of the media during Super Bowl XLIV Media Day at Sun Life Stadium on February 2, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

As I walked through the park on Thursday evening, two middle-aged assholes were stretching and discussing in loud and annoying voices the Chicago Bears' acquisition of Julius Peppers.

Man, What do you think about Lovie paying all that money to Peppers at his age?

"Lovie's not thinking long-term," said the other asshole. "He thinking about an immediate impact."

What life-changing wisdom!

I kept walking since I don't give a shit about Lovie or Peppers or the Bears or immediate impacts.

I'm more concerned about Saints free safety Darren Sharper saying he is not "feeling the love" and that he's planning a visit to the New York Jets.

We all know the impact he had. Nine interceptions. The ability to make plays on the ball that the Josh Bullocks and Kevin Kaesvihorns and Jason Davids of the world never possessed.

GM Mickey Loomis told reporters on Friday, "I have all the love in the world for Darren Sharper. I just don't have all the money in the world for Darren Sharper."

For now, let's give Loomis the benefit of the doubt and assume he's just being a tough negotiator. Playing a little hardball so that he doesn't have to overpay a 34-year-old free safety.

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Loomis and Sean Payton have earned the benefit of the doubt. So, let's relax, take a deep breath and know they are too shrewd to let Sharper get away.

By Friday morning, ESPN's Mike and Mike were absolutely giddy about the possibility of Sharper replacing the departed Kerry Rhodes at safety for the Jets.

Said Golic, never a big believer in the Saints this year, "I like Darren Sharper's quote about going back to New Orleans. He said, "if the love was right, that would have been taken care of. The love would have been reciprocated."

Releasing Charles Grant made sense. The loss of Scott Fujita stung but he can be replaced. The loss of Darren Sharper would be a first-rate shit storm.

The Saints can't argue that he is too old.

As Sharper points out, Hall of Fame defensive back Rod Woodson was 37 when he first made All-Pro. Sharper appears to have some tread left on the tires and says he thinks he still has two or three good years left in him.

What's the alternative?

Does anyone of sound mind believe that Usama Young or Malcolm Jenkins or Chip Vaughn can step in have the impact that Sharper had in the secondary this season?

Letting Sharper leave would send a message to veterans achieving at a high-level that the Saints care more about the bottom-line than rewarding achievement on the field.

It would make a young guy like Tracy Porter feel that the Saints may not hold up their end of the bargain financially in the future if he continues to play at an All-Pro level.

Sharper is developing a wandering eye as the Saints continue with their perplexing, ambivalent and nonchalant attitude toward resigning him.

"I have the utmost respect for (New York Jets head coach) Rex Ryan, seeing what he did last year and how quickly he turned things around with a rookie quarterback. And I sat down and watched that scheme and what they did," Sharper told the Times-Picayune. "And like I've told people before, the New York teams, there's something about the big lights and the big city that fits me, and I know I would fit there."

Maybe Loomis needs to take a cue from Sean Payton and sacrifice a part of his large paycheck to retain Sharper.

Few would question the veteran's departure would have a significant impact on the Saints ability as a defense to create turnovers.

Nevertheless, Loomis and Payton didn't win a Super Bowl by making boneheaded moves.

So, let's give them the benefit of the doubt that they have earned and assume that they will persuade Sharper to stay in New Orleans for now and try for a Super Bowl repeat.

The last two Super Bowl champions didn't fare very well the following season.

Sharper in a Jets uniform would be wrong on so many levels and would indeed be the first crack in the Saints' Super Bowl armor.

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