Winds Of Change Are Rustling In New Orleans
For the New Orleans Saints, the 2013 season is over and the 2014 season has just begun, starting with all the perplexing questions about free agency. The biggest of these perhaps is whether or not the Saints can resign Jimmy Graham to a long-term deal.
Who else should the Saints keep or let go? Who will be a cap casualty this offseason?
Here are some predictions and personal viewpoints of what New Orleans should do this offseason to improve.
Jimmy Graham, TE: We all know this is a no-brainer, as Graham is by far the most explosive player the Saints have on offense. It is no secret that Marques Colston has slowed down a bit and Lance Moore has seemingly fallen off the face of the Earth. Young receivers Joe Morgan, Kenny Stills and Nick Toon have great potential, but there are still questions about their futures.
Malcolm Jenkins, FS: Overall, Jenkins had a solid season where he was spectacular at times and just average at others. The feeling is he will be resigned, but not to a long-term, high dollar contract. More than likely he will get fair market value.
On The Fence:
Zach Strief, RT: Strief had a solid season, which might put him on the radar for other teams looking for a starting right tackle. The Saints should not overpay for Strief’s services under any circumstances. If he should leave for another team or the Saints decide to let him march on, this could be a big opportunity for Bryce Harris to step up.
Parys Haralson, LB: Haralson only played limited minutes, but he should be resigned and continue to play a role on the defense.
Ramon Humber, LB: Humber played well when he was on the field, and the likelihood is the Saints will keep him. But don't be surprised if another team makes him a good offer to leave.
Charles Brown, LT: The only scenario in which Brown comes back will be to replace Strief should he leave. Otherwise, he will be on the outs in New Orleans.
Luke McCown, QB: The Saints will keep McCown only because he is a veteran backup and knows the offense.
On The Street:
Robert Meachem, WR: Meachem made plays here and there, but not enough to stay with the team. He can't stretch the field like he once did, so it is time to make room for someone better.
Brian De la Puente, C: The Saints need to upgrade at the center position badly. They need more of a mauler who can blow people off the ball and keep the pocket from collapsing on QB Drew Brees.
Kenyon Coleman, DE: With Akiem Hicks, Glenn Foster and Tyrunn Walker showing they are ready for bigger things, Coleman can be replaced.
Keyunta Dawson, LB: He has been mainly a journeyman throughout his career and it is doubtful he will return.
Will Herring, LB: Herring is mainly a special teams player who could be brought back on another one-year deal but should be replaced with a younger player with more upside.
Jonathan Vilma, LB: Say farewell to a Saints all-time great, but there is no doubt his career is over, especially in New Orleans.
Shayne Graham, K: He will probably be brought back in to compete for the kicker position, but I would think the Saints will go with a kicker who can grow with the team, unless the rules change.
Will Smith, DE: If the Saints release Smith, they save $11.5 million in cap money. Aside from the savings, Smith really does not have a role on the team since the younger players have stepped up.
Jabari Greer, CB: With the type of injury he suffered and glaring signs of slowing down, the chance of Greer coming back as a starter are slim. New Orleans needs to bring in younger, bigger corners and cutting Greer will save the Saints $3.1 million.
Also be sure to watch out for some contract restructuring or even outright release for players like Roman Harper, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Jahri Evans.
Well, there you have it Saints fans. I for one am looking forward to hearing your approval or scorn. WHODAT!