The Saints have $83.3 million committed toward 19 players, and quarterback Drew Brees isn't one of them. He is carrying the $16 million franchise tag for 2012.
Brees and the Saints want to work out a long-term deal. If they do that this year. it's unlikely they could structure a contract in which Brees' 2013 cap figure could be less about $18,000, which would put the Saints well over the projected cap.
Bountygate left the Saints in more flux than any other team in the NFL, but as long as Brees is around, the Saints will be competitive. He has to get past his anger over the contract situation, which he will eventually do.
This will be a lesson on how the quarterback is more valuable than the coach. Even so Sean Payton will be missed.
Brees' is one of the best at figuring out what a defense is doing before the ball is snapped. His decision-making is as good as any in the league.
He and Pete Carmichael Jr., offensive coordinator and top candidate to become the team's interim head coach in Payton's absence, have a relationship that grew last season when Payton suffered a broken tibia and knee surgery, and didn't call plays.
But Brees' backup is Chase Daniel, and if he has to play for more than a game or two, the Saints would be in big trouble.
The Saints are improving their defense during the offseason. They have overhauled their linebackers by bringing in three free agents. Middle linebacker Jon Vilma is likely to get suspended for his participation in bountygate, didn't have the speed the Saints need, and isn't as good as his reputation.
Curtis Lofton is coming in from the Falcons and he is four years younger than Vilma. He will challenge Vilma in the middle and could push him off the roster.
Outside linebackers Scott Shanlee and Will Herring are only average players and second-year Martez, Wilson will battle David Hawthorne (Seahawks) and Chris Chamberlain (Rams) for the starting outside linebacker jobs. These new guys have speed and are good tacklers.
The Saints brought in a starting defensive tackle, Brodrick Bunkley, from the Broncos. He will line up next to Sedrick Ellis, who has been playing just OK. Defensive end Will Smith is the Saints' best rusher, but he's getting up in years.
The Saints drafted Cameron Jordan in the first round last season and he is a good run-stopper and not a good pass rusher. He's expected to the other starting end.
The Saints need more depth in the defensive line and more speed outside.
Here's how ESPN columnist Clark Judge looks at Bill Parcells joining the Saints as interim coach: "That's a challenge unlike any he has had to assume. People tell me it should work because this team is better than the team he had at Dallas and because he will have Brees as his quarterback.
"But the Saints had Brees when they lost to the 49ers in the playoffs, and in 2010 when the lost to the Seahawks in the playoffs. That was with Sean Payton.
"Parcells hasn't coached in five years and hasn't won a playoff game in 13. Bill Parcells is an intriguing idea, but is one that will get the Saints and Parcells nowhere."
SOME hither, others yon: Former LSU safety and pitcher Chad Jones, seriously injured in a car wreck on 2010, is thrilled to be joining the Giants in their offseason workouts which begin on April 16. "I'm definitely going up there to participate and show what I can do," Jones told Newsday. "I'll go there level-headed. I'll try not to show my emotions. I'll just be there looking around, trying to blend in with the crowd. I'll be happy to be in uniform, workout shoes, the whole nine yards, and be 100 per cent a part of the team.:...
LSU cornerback Mo Claiborne, likely a top 10 draft pick, reportedly scored a 4 out of 50 on the NFL's Wonderlic test. Apparently things went downhill when he misspelled LSU...LSU law school grad James Carville, said, "Half the people in Tiger Stadium on Saturday night can't spell LSU''...
by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz Staff
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