New Orleans Saints restricted free agent safety Rafael Bush signs an offer sheet with the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints will have until April 8 to match the offer or Bush will become a member of the Falcons.
The Saints issued a $1.4 million tender earlier this off-season.
The team is 2,206,141 under the cap, so it will be very difficult for the Saints to offer more than that.
On Wednesday, the Saints signed Canadian Football League Safety Marcus Ball to a three-year contract. This could signal that the Saints are moving away from Bush. The Ball signing became official on Thursday. The Saints now have three safeties, Jaruis Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and Ball. The Saints released safeties Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins earlier this off-season. Harper is now with the Panthers and Jenkins is with the Eagles.
Bush played a significant role as the third safety in the Saints 4-2-5 defensive alignment. This past season Bush racked up 42 total tackles five pass defenses and played in 13 games (six starts).
The Saints got Bush from Denver shortly after training camp cuts in 2012. Bush started his NFL career as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Falcons on their practice squad.
Even though i do like Bush’s talents, i believe this is the right move. The Saints need to save as much money as possible to re-sign Jimmy Graham to a long term deal. The best bet for that is to part way with Bush and sign Ball who currently has a much smaller contract money wise. I do wish him luck in the future eventhough he will go to the Saints rival in Atlanta if the Saints don’t match the offer sheet he signed with Atlanta. Like i said above i doubt the Saints will match the offer sheet because they are barely under the cap.
The New Orleans Saints have many decisions to make during this off-season. One of those decisions is whether to franchise tag All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham or not. Franchise tagging is basically a one year deal that binds the player to their current team payout is based on position. Graham is listed as a tight end, but most of the time he lines up as a slot wide receiver. So the question is will he be considered a tight end or a wide receiver for franchise tagging purposes? The tight end amount is 6.8 million while the wide receiver amount is 11.6 million. So, obviously the Saints will want to sign him for the tight end amount and Jimmy Graham would want the wide receiver amount. The New Orleans Saints have from February 17th till March 3rd to franchise tag Jimmy Graham. If a long term deal isn’t done by then, there is no doubt in my mind that the Saints will franchise tag Jimmy Graham.
The problem is even if the Saints are able to sign Graham to the tight end amount the Saints don’t have that type of money. The Saints are way above the cap limit for the 2014-2015 season and it’s possible that there isn’t enough room for other soon to be free agents which include: Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Strief, and Brian De la Puente. To get under the cap some players may need to be cut, some of those players include: Will Smith, Pierre Thomas, Roman Harper, and Lance Moore.
These decisions are tough meanwhile keeping Jimmy Graham is an easy call, just a very costly one.
In my opinion, resigning or franchise tagging Jimmy Graham needs to be number one priority. No matter what it takes the Saints need to make this happen. Graham has said he doesn’t want to play for any other quarterback than Drew Brees. Who could blame him, they bring out the best in each other. Not only is Jimmy Graham important to the Saints on the field, he is just as important off the field. The Saints fans including myself adore Jimmy Graham. He is as great off the field as he is on. He is always willing to sign autographs and take pictures with fans after the game. That’s a show of true character. Jimmy Graham is one of a kind.
Jimmy Graham 2013 season stats
86 catches, 1,215 yards, 16 touchdowns