Sunday, 05 June 2011 22:33

New Orleans Saints: Ranking, Mark Ingram, Free Agency, NFL Lockout

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Drew BreesThe 2011 Saints are rated No. 2 in NFL organizational rankings, behind only Super Bowl champion Green Bay,

Adam Scheim ranks the teams annually for and this is the third year he has ranked the franchises. The Patriots, ranked No. 1 in 2009 and 2010, have been knocked off the top spot.


This is not a power rating. Scheim grades each team on six vital categories -- owner, quarterback, head coach, front office, coaching staff and intangibles.

Here's the ratings of the Saints with an over-all ranking of 55.5 behind the Packers' 56.

Owner: 9
Quarterback: 9.5
Coach: 8.5.
Front office: 9.5
Coaching staff: 9
Intangibles: 10

Scheim: "Even during a work stoppage, the Saints have sold every ticket for next year. Owner Tom Benson has provided the club with stability and staying power in New Orleans. I never thought I would write that in 2004, Mickey Loomis is an aggressive, savvy general manager. Drew Brees is not only a great quarterback, but the ultimate team leader and representative in the community."

The Packers got the same ranking as the Saints in every category except quarterback. Aaron Rodgers got a 10 while Brees got a 9.5.

Buffalo was ranked No. 32 in the NFL.

Saints' potential free agents of note: FB Heath Evans, WR Lance Moore, TE David Thomas, C Jonathan Goodwin, G Carl Nicks, OLT Jermon Bushrod, DE Jeff Charleston, DT Remi Ayodele, DT Anthony Hargrove, DE Jimmy Wilkerson, OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, OLB Scott  Schanle. LB Marvin Mitchell, LB Danny Clark, CB Leigh Torrence, SS Roman Harper, S Darren Sharper, S Usama Young and S Pierson Prioleau.

It surprised many that the Saints traded up to select running back Mark Ingram. However, his selection is a clear signal that they weren't happy with their running game.

The Saints should have no trouble controlling the ball on the ground with the addition of Ingram. His selection and the re-signing of Pierre Thomas before the draft should signal that the team is going to lessen the role of Reggie Bush, who will take a pay cut and a lesser role if he returns for his sixth season.

The third-round of Johnny Poe could signal that the Saints will ask veteran cornerback Randall Gay to take a pay cut if he returns for his fourth season with the team. Gay, who is scheduled to earn $3.5 million in base salary, has missed 16 regular-season games the past two seasons.

Both outside linebacking jobs are open with veteran weak-side linebacker Scott Shanle and Danny Clark unsigned. The coaches are high on Jonathan Casillas, who missed all of last season because of injury. The weakside job is his to lose if Shanle doesn't return for his sixth season.  Martez Wilson will get some work at strongside linebacker.  He reminds the coaches of the departed Scott Fugita.

While depth isn't currently an issue at wide receiver, it could be if veteran Lance Moore isn't re-signed. Moore, who is arguably the team's most reliable passing target except for Pierre Thomas, would be an unrestricted free agent under 2009's rules, but a restricted free agent under last year's rules.


SOME hither, others yon Rookie Mark Ingram has been participating in seven-on-seven drills with teammates in an effort to familiarize himself with the Saints offense. “He looks great," said quarterback Drew Brees. "He can play a pretty significant role in our offense." It's a positive sign for Ingram's chances of making an instant impact.  He insists he was not offended by Reggie Bush's Twitter tantrum after the draft. "He's always been real cool with me," said Ingram. "Real encouraging, real positive."...

The U.S. District Court in Minnesota has canceled mediation sessions scheduled for this week to begin confidential settlement talks with the NFL and the NFLPA. U.S. Magistrate Judge Arthur Boylan is pushing for a settlement now, taking advantage of the uncertainty and lack of leverage on both sides before the Eighth Circuit issues a ruling on the lockout. The players have been pushing for serious talks with the "power-broker" owners as opposed to attorneys and this is a step in the right direction.  As NFL Network's  Albert Breer points out, terms of the next CBA were included in the settlement reached back in 1993...

What will the media miss most about Shaq?  They will miss the fact that unlike so many superstars today, he realized that sports is entertainment. He didn't mind being the villain if it meant that interest would be created and rivalries built. Why do you think he took jabs at opposing stars? "It's marketing,"said Shaq. "A lot of stuff I say is BS, but the media uses it, the fans read or see it and the arena is full. It's part of the game -- like wrestling. What I said about the other guys was nothing personal."...Now that Jim Tressel has been fired at Ohio State, maybe he can be retained to perform the famous dotting the dotting of the  "i" at The "O-Lie-O State." Can you see Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor frantically searching the locker room and yelling out: "Anyone seen the keys to my car?" And all the other players yell in unison "Which one?" But I don't look for Pryor to play at The Ohio State again. Suspended for five games this season, it is reported he might have driven eight cars in the past three years..Word was back in the '50s, John David Crow of Springhill got cars from Oklahoma, LSU and Texas A&M. He had to give two of them back after signing with the Aggies, where he would win the Heisman Trophy....

If The Ohio State truly wants to hire former Florida coach Urban Meyer to replace Tressel, the school did the absolute right thing when Tressel was forced Io step down. It hired an anonymous coach -- Luke Whatchamarcallit -- to coach this season  so that Meyer can continue to decompress and work at ESPN this season. Meyer will become The Ohio State coach because it is dream job -- even more than Notre Dame...Can you believe South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wants college football players to start getting paid? He must have forgotten that they were when he was at Florida. LSU's Les Miles backed Spurrier's wanting players to get paid $300 per game...Former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert  and his partner at WWL Radio, Deke Bellavia, hosted a town-hall type meeting last week at Oceana Grill in the French Quarter. They kicked off their "We Want Football" campaign on the radio station...

by Ed Staton

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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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