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News » New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-03

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-03

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-03
The news that the 2009 salary cap had increased from $123 million to $127 million was great for the Saints, who were pressed tight against the lower figure before releasing veterans Deuce McAllister and David Patten recently.

It's obviously nice to have a little extra cushion to work with, but it still won't mean that much to the Saints. They'll likely take a cautious approach to free agency -- which has been their method (with one notable exception in quarterback Drew Brees) since coach Sean Payton arrived in 2006.

While they won't be major spenders, the Saints had enough cap room to re-sign three of their starters -- middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma (signed to a four-year deal Friday), right tackle Jon Stinchcomb (signed a five-year deal Saturday) and wide receiver Devery Henderson.

They should also be able to retain right guard Jahri Evans, a restricted free agent who was given the highest tender offer, as well as wide receiver Lance Moore and tackle Zach Strief, restricted free agents who received tenders of $1.545 million each.

By restructuring the contracts of or releasing other veteran players already under contract, the Saints will have created the cap space needed to sign a few of their own unrestricted free agents or shop the market for some complementary players -- especially for an underachieving defense.

No matter if they decide to do it in free agency or the draft, the Saints have to upgrade the back end of a secondary that has given up way too many deep passes over the last couple of years. That would mean acquiring a free safety that can help cover a bigger portion of the field after the Saints allowed 34 passes of 25 yards or longer in 2007 and another 33 last year.

Payton didn't even try to mask the Saints' intentions at the NFL Scouting Combine workouts last week. Defense, he said, particularly the secondary is his team's primary need this coming season.

"The logical statement is that we are looking to help out our defense," he said. "That being said, I think the key is to do the best job we can prior to the draft in evaluating these players. The secondary would be an area I hope to come away from the first or second day of the draft with some help."

While no free safety is regarded as a first-round pick, the Saints may have to get that part of it done in free agency. But at this point, where they get help doesn't really matter.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 3, 2009

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Will Allen Name: Will Allen
Position: CB
Age: 29
Experience: 8 years
College: Syracuse
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