Monday, 04 April 2011 15:04

New Orleans Saints: Looks At Anti-trust, Draft, Free Agency

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Ed StatonIf the 2010 rules resumes, it would be easier for the Saints to keep fourth and fifth-year veterans such as strong safety Roman Harper, left tackle Jermon Bushrod, receiver Lance Moore, tight end David Thomas and defensive tackle Remi Ayondale.

However, players such as Moore probably would hold out for long--term contracts. Moore would he heading into a third straight year of restricted free agency

The NFL could institute new rules for the 2011 season if it's forced to go back to work. However, the league doesn't want to risk doing anything that might be deemed unfair in the upcoming antitrust lawsuit filed by the players, including Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

"My guess as to what they would likely do is return to the 2010 rules if the lockout is lifted," said Gabe Feldman, one of the country's leading experts on sports law. "The owners could conceivably use any rules they want. They could implement the most restrictive rules possible, they would then be subject of attack by antitrust law, and the owners may feel that their safest option is to just implement the rules they had in 2010. Their argument  is that the players agreed to it, so how could it be an antitrust violation?"

Even though the Saints aren't likely to be big spenders in the free agency market this season because they are likely to add to it with a lucrative long-term  extension for Brees.

The Saints would like to hang onto as many core players as possible keep Harper, Bushrod and Moore off the open market.

If those players become restricted free agents, the Saints only have to offer them one-year deals in the $1.8 million to $3 million range. If any of these players sign elsewhere, the Saints have the right to match any offers they sign with another team or receive draft picks instead.

The Saints would like to bring back Bushrod for another season. They have a young replacement waiting in the wings in second-year tackle Charles Brown, but he could use another year of experience.  And, the Saints don't want to sign Bushrod to a long-term deal.

The Saints' planning for the April 28-30 draft could be affected if they know what the rules of free agency will be in place by then. But most likely they will stick to their long-held strategy of choosing the "best available."

At the moment, the Saints are holding a NFC South-low six draft  picks. Here's a look at what they have in the upcoming draft:

Round 1 (24 over-all)
Round 2 (56 over-all)
Round 3 (72 over-all)
Round 3 (88 over-all)
Round 7 (226 over-all)
Round 7 (243 over-all)

Here are the moves that led to the Saints' current draft order: They acquired the extra third-round pick as part of the trade that sent offensive tackle Jammal Brown to the Redskins. The Saints also sent their 2011 fifth-round pick to the 'Skins as part of the deal.

They sent their fourth-round pick during last year's draft to the Jaguars for a 2010 pick, which they used on center/guard Matt Tennant, who fits nicely into their future.

They lost their sixth-round pick as part of their trade for tight end David Thomas with the Patriots, who have since traded the pick to the Broncos.

They gained an extra seventh-round pick for losing linebacker Scott Fujita to the Browns without signing any equal-value free agents to replace him.

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Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography. | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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