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News » New Orleans Saints Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28

New Orleans Saints Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28

New Orleans Saints Strategy and Personnel 2009-02-28
With the scouting combine behind them, the Saints shifted their focus to getting some immediate help for their defense and new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

While the draft is the lifeblood of any team, the Saints don't have that many picks with only four (a first, two fourths and a seventh) to play with. So they will take a long look on that side of the ball in free agency.

Their hope is to acquire a few veterans -- including a free safety and maybe a cornerback -- who can help improve a unit that's given up 67 passes of 25 yards or longer over the last two years and has ranked 30th and 23rd against the pass in 2007 and '08, respectively.


Without question, the biggest priority for the Saints in free agency is middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

Ideally, the Saints would have re-signed him by now, but they had to wait until the signing period started because of terms of the trade that brought him from the New York Jets last winter.

The Saints other top targets to re-sign are right tackle Jon Stinchcomb and right guard Jahri Evans, both three-year starts for an offensive line that has given up just 52 sacks in that time -- including a club-record 13 in 2008.

Evans was one of four restricted free agents tendered by the Saints. He got the highest tender with the Saints to receive first- and third-round draft picks if he were to sign an offer sheet with another team and the Saints declined to match.


1. Free safety: The Saints have given up too many big pass plays over the top the last few seasons, so acquiring an instinctive free safety with strong cover skills and an ability to make plays all over the field is a must.

2. Cornerback: Tracy Porter earned a starting job as a rookie last summer and Randall Gay was solid as the nickel back, but Mike McKenzie will turn 33 in April after finishing the last two seasons on IR with knee injuries that required major surgery.

3. Running back: With Deuce McAllister gone, the Saints need another bruiser in the backfield to complement Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, who is more of a third-down back than an every-down pounder.

MEDICAL WATCH: RB Reggie Bush had surgery on his left knee in mid-December, but is ahead of schedule with his rehab, according to coach Sean Payton.

--LCB Mike McKenzie tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in early November and will not be at full speed for the start of the strength and conditioning program in late March.

--WR Marques Colston had an arthroscopic procedure on his knee after the 2008 season and won't be full go for the start of the off-season program.

--DT Brian Young finished the season on IR with a knee injury and won't be at full speed when off-season workouts begin in March.

--RCB Tracy Porter had surgery in October after dislocating his right wrist, but Payton said he's running and lifting weights and is "close to 100 percent."




--FS Josh Bullocks has outstanding speed but has struggled in pass coverage - especially on the deep ball -- and isn't likely to return.

--TE Mark Campbell finished the season on IR after having surgery on his knee, but could be re-signed because he's a valuable blocker.

--CB Aaron Glenn, a 15-year veteran, was bothered by an ankle problem all year and likely won't be re-signed.

--K Martin Gramatica isn't likely to be re-signed after rookie Garrett Hartley made all 13 of his field-goal attempts in the second half of the season.

--QB Joey Harrington was the third-stringer, which could make him expendable if the Saints want to go with a cheaper alternative.

--WR Devery Henderson was a starter this season, but he's been way too inconsistent at times and might not be re-signed.

--FS Terrence Holt was a late-season injury replacement and it's not known if the Saints want him back.

--DT Antwan Lake has been a solid backup in the middle and the Saints will likely try to re-sign him.

--CB Michael Lehan was a late-season injury replacement and could be re-signed.

--C/G Matt Lehr was a backup who was released several times when the Saints needed a roster spot, so he may or may not return.

--DT James Reed was signed during training camp, but tore his Achilles' tendon and won't be re-signed.

--RB Aaron Stecker has struggled with various leg problems the last couple of years and probably won't return.

--RT Jon Stinchcomb is a three-year starter who will likely be back if he doesn't get a better offer from someone else.


--WR Courtney Roby (not tendered as RFA) was a mid-season acquisition that made an impression on kickoff returns.

--NT Montavious Stanley (not tendered as ERFA).


--RG Jahri Evans (tendered at $2.792M with first- and third-round picks as compensation) has been a key run and pass blocker since he broke into the starting lineup as a rookie in 2006 and will be tendered.

--WR Lance Moore (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) is a former street free agent who led the team in receptions (79), receiving yards (928) and TD catches (10).

--T Zach Strief (tendered at $1.545M with second-round pick as compensation) served as a capable backup and filled in admirably as a starter in a pinch.

--CB Leigh Torrence (tendered at $1.01M with no compensation) was claimed off waivers as an injury replacement.



--LB Troy Evans: Potential UFA; terms unknown.

--PK Garrett Hartley: Potential ERFA; $855,000/2 yrs.

--LB Marvin Mitchell: Potential ERFA; $460,000/1 yr.

--S Chris Reis: Potential ERFA; $460,000/1 yr.

--MLB Jonathan Vilma: UFA; $34M/5 yrs, $17M guaranteed.


--TE Dan Campbell: FA Lions; $745,000/1 yr.


--RB Deuce McAllister (released/failed physical).

--WR David Patten (released).

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 28, 2009

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David Kircus Name: David Kircus
Position: WR
Age: 28
Experience: 4 years
College: Grand Valley State
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