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News » Paytonizing of Saints almost done


Paytonizing of Saints almost done


Paytonizing of Saints almost done
Slowly but surely the familiar faces are falling by the wayside.


Deuce McAllister. Gone

Mike Karney. Gone.

Josh Bullocks. Gone.

Aaron Stecker. Gone.

And now, Mike McKenzie. Gone.

The Paytonizing of the New Orleans Saints is all but complete. For better or worse, these are now Sean Payton's New Orleans Saints .

The holdovers from the Jim Haslett regime now number nine. They are, in order of tenure -- Kevin Houser, Charles Grant, Jon Stinchcomb, Will Smith, Devery Henderson, Jamar Nesbit, Brian Young, Jammal Brown and Lance Moore.

And of those, Nesbit and Young might not want to sign any long-term housing leases, if you know what I mean.

The nine easily could be whittled to seven before the Saints kick off Payton's fourth season this fall.

This is hardly unusual.

Coaches always want "their guys" on the roster. To paraphrase Bill Parcells, if you're asked to cook the dinner, you ought to be able to shop for the groceries.

And every new coach brings a personal shopping list with him.

Haslett did the exact same thing when he took over the Saints in 2000. He and Randy Mueller brought in a mind-boggling 37 new players in their first season.

By Haslett's fourth season in New Orleans, only three holdovers from the Mike Ditka era remained: center Jerry Fontenot, defensive lineman Willie Whitehead and special teams ace Fred McAfee. The rest were released, traded or allowed to leave as free agents.

Payton's roster overhaul has been less dramatic but just as extensive.

On the surface, it might appear a case of Payton wanting "his guys" on the roster, but that doesn't appear to be the case this offseason.

After all, he retained a pair of Haslett draftees, Henderson and Stinchcomb, in free agency this year and agreed to give Grant and Smith mega-deals in previous seasons.

And it's safe to assume McAllister and McKenzie still would be on the roster if not for the severe injuries that derailed their careers.

More than anything, it's simply a cold hard case of NFL economics. For the roster to get cheaper, it almost always must get younger.

As freshly signed safety Darren Sharper noted after signing with the Saints earlier this week: "It's a young man's league."

Indeed, before signing with the Saints this week, Sharper was one of a score of ex-Pro Bowlers who found themselves sitting on the sideline, a quiet phone in the corner of their agents' offices.

The list of stars who've been cast aside in recent weeks is staggering: Derrick Brooks, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Orlando Pace, Jason Taylor, Samari Rolle and Ken Lucas.

Sharper was on the other side of a youth movement with the Vikings this offseason, along with longtime Vikings center Matt Birk.

In three seasons, Brad Childress has undergone a similar roster renovation with the Vikings. Only 13 Vikings remain from the Mike Tice era.

Other coaches who took over teams in the same year as Payton have done the same.

Packers Coach Mike McCarthy has only 10 players left from the Mike Sherman era. Bills Coach Dick Jauron has the same number from Mike Mularkey's tenure.

Even more eye-opening, the Texans have only three players on the roster who were with Dom Capers' final team in 2006. Texans Coach Gary Kubiak has spent the offseason ridding the roster of remnants from the previous regime, cutting Marlon Greenwood and allowing C.C. Brown, DeMarcus Faggins, Mark Bruener, Bryan Pittman and Dunta Robinson to hit the free-agent market.

It's the reality of today's NFL, where money talks and youth walks.

The Saints saved more than $12.5 million in salary cap charges by releasing McAllister, McKenzie, Patten and Karney. That cap space allowed them to add several free agents to bolster their depth and fill holes on the roster. And they got younger in the process, even with the addition of the 33-year-old Sharper.

Last year the Saints took eight players with 10 or more years of experience to camp with them in Jackson, Miss.

Today, three are left. And two of them, Nesbit and Hollis Thomas, might not be for long.

The turk used to make rounds only in September. Now he makes house calls in March, as well.

. . . . . . .

Jeff Duncan can be reached at jduncan@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3404.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 23, 2009

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