Now that it's the offseason, I will try to write more articles. I don't write in-season articles because, frankly, I have nothing to write about. Juge does such a good job with the player grades and everything, I feel like there is nothing I can write about that he doesn't cover already. Anyway, with that being said I want to write about my thoughts on the free agent situation for the Saints.
First things first; resign in-house players. The players I feel like the team should re-sign are:
Brian De La Puente - Due to the fact that despite his slightly disappointing year (to many) at Center, I still believe he's a good one that the Saints should not let go. Also, because of his down year I do believe the team could get him for relatively cheap for a couple more years.
Malcom Jenkins - I liked how Jenkins played this year. I believe he will have a resurgence on defense because of Rob Ryan. I believe he should be signed at least for depth, but I believe he'll return as a starter in 2014.
Parys Haralson - The linebacker position saw a close to immediate impact when Haralson joined the team. He's a solid linebacker that I think Rob Ryan likes in this defense. I think he returns for cheap.
Rafael Bush - This dude is an absolute must to bring back. He played like he could compete for a starting job in camp next year.
Jed Collins - Dude is one of the top fullbacks in the league (not really saying much since the FB is obsolete in a lot of systems). The Saints use him on offense sometimes and he has proven his value. I think he will come back on an extension.
You might be thinking "Where's Jimmy Graham?!" and to that I say; He's on another team. I love Jimmy Graham as does everyone in that organization but if I'm thinking about the long-term future and the ability of Drew Brees, I believe the Saints could find another tight end in the draft and save a boatload in cap space. If you're still not on board with what I'm saying, think about this. The Saints signed Drew Brees to a huge contract a couple years ago. That contract put the team in somewhat of a predicament due to the very high number that he demanded and held out for. I could see the same happening with Jimmy Graham because of how good he is compared to other tight ends in the league. If the Saints signed Jimmy Graham to a deal that is up there, I believe that would absolutely wreck the Saints free agency period for years. That is why I say let Jimmy Graham go.
Next, it's testing the free agent market from other teams. I believe the market is very promising for the Saints to do some damage, especially if they save the amount of money that it would take to retain Graham and here's what I'm thinking.
NOTE: THESE ARE PENDING THEIR RESPECTIVE TEAMS SIGNING THEM
Eric Decker - Great receiver with Manning and I believe he would see many more catches with Brees.
Greg Hardy - Unrealistic, I know, but a man can dream right? I personally believe a good defense starts with the front 7. If the Saints signed Hardy and plugged him in opposite Cam Jordan, I believe the defense would increase exponentially.
Michael Oher - Since I elected not to put Strief on the "re-sign" list, The Saints must sign a Right Tackle. Since the Ravens moved Oher to RT in 2013, I believe he would do well with the team. He's big, physical, and in my opinion, better than Strief. I don't think Oher would cost too much to get and I believe he would make an immediate impact. Just another bonus to potentially signing him, if Armstead didn't work out next year, the Saints could move Oher to Left Tackle, which he was drafted for so he has extensive experience at the position.
Dennis Pitta - An exceptional tight end before his injury at the start of 2013, I believe he could return to form. He's slightly smaller (3 inches and about 20 pounds smaller), but is still a playmaker and would undoubtedly cost less than Graham would. With the Ravens signing Flacco to a Brees-like deal, I'm not sure if they have the cap space to sign Oher and Pitta so I figure the Saints could snag one of them at least considering Jacoby Jones is a free agent.
That's what I'm thinking as far as Free Agency is concerned. Now, here's a side-note. If Richard Sherman should be on the market come Free Agency, I believe the Saints should do whatever it takes to get him. I know that's even less likely than landing Hardy but he makes players better around him, and despite his conceived arrogance I actually like him. You may or may not like him, but numbers don't lie. He is the best cornerback in the league right now. The Seahawks have said that they are going to prioritize Thomas over Sherman and try to resign Bennett so if the Saints are lucky, they could try to outbid anybody else for the best cornerback.
I'd like to get your thoughts on everything here.
Do you think there is any chance Jenkins will be a CB and we draft a Safety?
I think Haralson will be gone. Some good play of him this year and the Saints do not want to pay him what some other team offers him.
I think Graham will be back. Unless... he might be traded to the Browns for a first and 2nd round pick. Anything goes. But if he is traded they MUST find a good TE in the draft and they willg et a WR. You need some sure things like Colston.
As to your "Cut Graham because of cap" thing and then signing Decker... does not make sense. Decker will get a bigger contract then Graham.
I was wondering about Oher myself. I think he has never lived up to his potential and the Saints are better of keeping Strief.
Also, please no Sherman. Besides CBs are very expensive too and the Saints will not want to pay that much for a player that is a lockerroom distraction.
I would let Graham walk.Don't feel it would be advantageous to invest that much money when there's so many other needs that need to be met (WR, CB, OL) Brees big contract cost us the best OL in the NFL & Graham's big contract demands would definitely keep us from bringing in other key FA. To be a SB contender you can't tie up that much cap space in 2 players.
I don't know if Jenkins is coming back. I kinda doubt it. There is no way Decker would get more money on an open market than Graham. No way.
It's hard to really have a firm position with all the financial uncertainty, too. Weird situation for sure