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The New Orleans Saints draft outlook: Centers

Who DatThe NFL draft kicks off in a week, every NFL franchise is making last minute adjustments to their draft boards. The New Orleans Saints currently have seven picks, one in each round. I know i gave my opinions about who would benefit from being drafted by the Saints in the first round a couple weeks back, but now since i have more information about the mid to late round prospects i will discuss who will fit best in the Saints system. If you follow the Saints like i do, you will know the biggest draft needs for the Saints are wide receiver, line backer, corner back, and offensive line

If i had to point out one need to be superior to the rest it would be offensive line. The center position is a big question mark after Brian De Lepuente signed a one year deal with San Francisco 49ers in mid April. The Saints need to find a replacement quick. I don’t think their is a first round talent guy at the center position, so i still expect they will draft a wide receivers and conerbacks in the first few rounds, but i would not be surprised if the Saints went after a center in the mid to late rounds. A couple of guys that have my attention are Weston Richburg from Colorado State, Marcus Martin from USC,  and Tyler Larson from Utah State.

Weston Richburg is built for the NFL. He is listed at 6′ 3” 300lbs. His is very powerful and is able to move defensive tackles with ease. The real concern with him is the level of competition he played  against in college.Colorado State is in the Midwestern Conference, which their is really no powerhouse team in that conference, so it’s unsure to me how he will stack up against the level of talent that the NFL has to offer. Marcus Martin is from Southern California, which has great competition Just like Richburghe has a build that is NFL worthy. He also has great quickness off the snap and can reach the second level. One downside is he only has one year of starting expeience at center. Martin has great upside and he could become a great NFL center if he continues to work on his craft. Tyler Larson, is a big guy. He stands at 6’4” 313 ibs and ideal size for a center. He is very quick for his size. He can seal off defenders in the run game and slides into well to pass protection. He has good change of direction to moving targets.  He is very dourable, he started the last 51 games of his college career. His main weakness is that he has short arms which can cause problems blocking bigger defensive lineman.

Even though i like all these guys i mentioned, i only think Tyler Larson will completely fit the Saints system.  The Saints love to run shotgun, the screen and pitch game. With his quickness to adjust to moving targets and ability to pass block, he will be an ideal center for the Saints.

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The New Orleans Saints re-sign Robert Meacham

Drew+Brees+Robert+Meachem+Miami+Dolphins+v+Zlgr1EvJUcNlThe New Orleans Saints have re-signed former 1st round pick Robert Meacham to a one year deal. He was originally drafted by the Saints in 2007. He spent one year with the San Diego Chargers in 2012. He is still valued as a deep threat.

The wide receiver position became thin after the departure of Lance Moore. It is a possibility that the Saints could draft a wide receiver in the upcoming NFL Draft. The talent in this years draft at the wide receiver position is sky high.

He will be fighting for playing time behind wide receivers Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. The Saints also have young receivers in Nick Toon and Joe Morgan.

Meacham did a lot as a contributor on the team hauling in 16 passes for 324 yards. His 20.3 yards per catch tied Aldrick Robinson of the Redskins for highest yards per catch average in the league.It is unlikely that Meacham will see more targets at this point in his career.

Meacham fits best in his role with the Saints. He emerged as a huge play specialist in 2008-2011. He then signed with the Chargers to be in a number one receiver type role, but didn’t do well. Now he is back in the black and gold.

In his career  Meacham has 171 receptions, 2,800 yards and 27 touchdowns.

I believe this re-signing will help the Saints. They now have someone who can stretch the field. The opposing defense have to not only defend against the short passes with Colston, but they have to defend against deep passes with Stills Graham and Meacham. It will be very interesting to see how he does in the mix with all the other weapons Drew Brees has at his disposal.

 

Saints sign Champ Bailey to a two year deal

ImageIt seems like Bailey has some more football left in him. The 35 year-old corner back who was cut by the Denver Broncos in early March agrees to terms on a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Bailey missed most of the 2013 due to a foot injury, but he plans to come in and compete for a starting role right away. He will make the transition to the Broncos 19th ranked defense to the Saints defense who ranked fourth overall and second in pass defense.

Due to his foot injury he only played in five games last season.This marks only the second time Bailey has made less than 10 starts in his 15 year career. Bailey is barely injured, since 1999 he has started at least 13 games in his 13 out of 15 year career,

Bailey has been selected to 12 Pro Bowls. That is the most in NFL history for defensive backs and second most to any defensive player. He only trails Reggie White with 13 selections.

New Orleans is the third team Bailey has played for since entering the NFL in 1999 where he was drafted seventh overall to the Washington Redskins. After five season with Washington, he was traded to the Broncos where he  played 10 seasons, before being cut last month.

To me this is a great signing by the Saints. With the departure of Jabari Greer, corner back is a great need for the Saints. As i said in my last post the Saints will probably draft a corner back with their 1st round pick and should do so, because Bailey is only a short term fix.Even though Bailey will come in fighting for a starting job there is no possible way he won’t be a starter come week 1 in September. The current Saints second corner Corey White was exposed against the Eagles in the playoffs after number one corner back Kennan Lewis went out with a head injury. Like i said, this is a great signing he will give the thin Saints secondary a much needed boost.  Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis is making things happen once again.

New Orleans Saints cap cutting continues.

ImageThe New Orleans Saints have released wide receiver Lance Moore in an effort to get under the salary cap. Moore is the fifth Saints veteran released this off season.

Earlier this off season, the Saints released Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, Will Smith and Johnathan Vilma. It is also rumored than Darren Sproles will be gone too. Eventhough these moves seem surprising, they were also necessary for the Saints to be able to get under the salary cap of $133 million. Recently the Saints have place an non-exclusive franchise tag on Jimmy Graham.The price tag for tight ends is about $7 million. If he files grievance to be tagged as a wide receiver that amount will jump to around $12 million. The Saints are trying to work on a long-term deal with Jimmy Graham which will probably make him the highest paid tight end in the  history of the NFL.

The Saints have also placed a $1.4 million restricted free agent tendor on safety Rafael Bush. The Saints will need to clear more cap room if they want to resign free agents Zach Strief, Malcolm Jenkins, and Brian De la Puente. So with the Saints having so little  cap room they had no choice, but to release veterans to clear more space.

The only Saints that remain under contract from the 2009 super bowl season are Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Pierre Thomas, Thomas Moorestead, Jahari Evans, and  Robert Meachem. Zach Strief and Malcolm Jenkins are set to become free agents on March 11.

The unofficial start of free agency is tomorrow, where teams can negotiate contracts with their soon to be free agents. This period lasts three days. Free agency will officialy start March 11 at 4:00 pm eastern time.

Will the saints cut anyone else, will they attempt to negotiate contracts with potential free agents? Stay tuned who dat nation, it will be an interesting next few days,

The New Orleans Saints are helped out with increased salary cap.

127534_jumbo_shotThe NFL will reportedly raise the salary cap to about $130 million in 2014. This is very big news for the Saints since their salary cap total is sky high. With this raise in salary cap the Saints will be about $4.6 million under the cap.  So like i said this news is amazing.

To be able to afford Jimmy Grahams franchise tag price the Saints will need to trim the salary cap at least another $10 million. It is still possible the Saints could release current veterans like defensive tackle Brodrick Brunkley, cornerback Patrick Robinson, receiver Lance Moore and running back Pierre Thomas. Those four players combined could free up about $12.6 million in cap space.

The Saints made their biggest cuts last week in Roman Harper, Will Smith, and Jabari Greer. Those three combined will account for $8.7 million in “dead money” against this years salary cap due to their signing bonuses which hasn’t been charged yet.

The salary cap is expected to rise even more in 2015 and with those three off the books the Saints may be able to stay somewhat active in free agency this year.

The Saints front office has been working hard this off season with all the decisions they have been making, but these difficult decisions are not over yet. Saints fans just have to hope that all these decisions pay off in the long run.  All and all he did take a risk on Drew Brees back in 06 and draft Jimmy Graham in the 3rd round in 2010. As Saints fans would say “In Loomis We Trust.”

Franchise tagging Jimmy Graham brings tough decisions to the New Orleans Saints.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saintsa

New York Giants v New Orleans Saints

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