2011 Saints Free Agents Prospects

When news broke late Wednesday night that both sides were secretly negotiating a new CBA, for the first time real progress seemed to be on the horizon.  As we let hope swell Thursday, we discovered that the session wasn't so secret and wasn't spontaneous -- it was called together and mediated by Arthur Boylan, the judge who was scheduled to mediate sessions sometime next week.

Regardless of what happens in the courts, it is safe to assume we will have football eventually. Whether a new CBA is in place or the lockout gets lifted and both sides agree to a temporary set of rules resembling the structure of 2010 is yet to be seen.  However, free agency will occur sometime.  The only real question is which of the potential 508 free agents will be "free" or unrestricted.

Some players have the body, skill set and intangibles to fit in any system and succeed despite what's around them.  Other players are best suited for a particular scheme and their success may be dependant on who's playing next to them.  Last, you have players who bolster depth. Of this final group, some have a very low ceiling when it comes to potential while the rest are players who are battling age and injury.  The big splash signings usually occur during the first week of free agency while those bargain moves take place weeks into the signing period.  Older veterans or veterans with an injury history often don't get signed until injuries occur in training camp or their ego accepts their market value. 

In years past, the price (some say value) of free agents have steadily climbed.  A handful of guys may get a big payday, but a few things are certain to affect that.  First, the draft occured before free agency.  Of all the teams that needed a defensive end, nine were drafted in the first two rounds.  If you're Ray Edwards, your value just went down.  Those four and five year players hope to be unrestricted.  If free agency is "wide open," the market will be flooded with multiple quality players at almost every position.  Translation -- it will be cheaper because supply is so great.  The final factor will be when free agency begins. The longer this lockout continues, the more valuable veteran experience becomes; also the more likely more free agents stick with their former team -- less learning curve, no time to find a house and move a family in the middle of an expedited training camp and other reasons along those lines.

Below, we'll take a look at the potential free agents by position. I'll list my "pipe dreams" -- the big name free agents that fill Saints positions of need that every fan pines for, as well as more realistic targets that fit the mold and motus operandi of Mickey Loomis. I'll also list what I feel are the most pressing needs. 

The Saints currently have a 2011 payroll of just under $99 million, including Reggie's unreasonable number.  I think if you combine Reggie and Drew's salary, the resulting cap number will be similar to the combination of post extensions for both players.  In other words, what you save from Reggie is going to Drew, and after those two contracts are settled, the Saints cap number won't be much different.  The Saints have a lot of guys set to become free agents in some form but only a handful are vital to what they do. I believe the Saints will be able to keep the players they wish to keep.  I also believe that when the dust settles, the Saints will have added at least three free agents who will contribute on gameday.  I don't think they will have any issues with the salary cap.

If a new CBA is in place when free agency begins, the years accrued will be set back to either four or five years experience to reach unrestricted free agency. If free agency begins with no new CBA, it will likely take place under a structure resembling last year's rules. The significance is that a player will need six years experience to be an unrestricted free agent.

The pool of players with six years or more of experience is 229. The pool of players with less than six years experience is 279. Meaning there can be a potential of 508 free agents. Many will be franchised or restricted, which may or may not matter depending on the CBA status, and many will re-sign with their own teams.  Many players currently under contract will be cut for scheme/production/contract reasons.

I think the Saints could use the following positions: 

DT-- Preferably a NT.  I think the Shaun Rogers signing will have much impact, and though these guys can play into their late 30's, I believe the Saints still need to find the "next" guy who can bolster their rotation.  Who I think Loomis targets -- an obvious one, Barry Cofield, whom we tried to trade for already. My pipe dreams -- Aubrayo Franklin or Cullen Jenkins.  Jenkins is going to cost, but he's versatile enough to play DE or DT under Gregg Williams.

DE -- Though the Saints drafted two, Will Smith will miss some time and Alex Brown has seen better days. Who I think Loomis targets -- someone that won't excite us. My pipe dreams -- Charles Johnson (steal him from in division) or Victor Abriami.

LB -- The Saints need to continue to infuse youth and experienced talent here. Who I think Loomis will targe t-- Rocky McIntosh, whom we already tried to trade for. My Pipe dream -- Manny Lawson, Thomas Davis, Paul Posluzny, James Anderson or Barrett Rudd.  The idea of stealing someone from in division is one I can't let go.

TE -- The Saints have two solid guys, assuming they are able to resign David Thomas, but they could always use another. Who I think Loomis will target -- someone like Daniel Graham. My pipe dreams --Mercedes Lewis, Zach Miller, Owen Daniels.  I think Loomis will find someone known for in-line blocking who can catch a little but can you imagine how a bonafide star would look paired with what they already have?

-- With all the injuries at the position, and the age of some of the regulars, it's time to get younger. Who I think Loomis will targe t-- someone like Tyrell Johnson or Sabby Piscatelli. My pipe dream -- Micheal Huff or Atari Bigby.


Luxury:

FB -- They could use youth here. Don't know if Loomis is looking, but I'd like Vontay Leach or Brian Leonard.

WR -- The right guy at the right price, who knows if Payton desires more consistency here. Wouldn't mind Mark Clayton or Jacoby Jones or Danny Amendola -- all the kind of guys Loomis would sign in terms of financial compensation and under the radar fit.  Perhaps they'll target someone who can work the slot and add to their return game?

OL -- Specifically tackle or a "utility" or "swing" guy. The Saints have Strief currently in that role, but who knows what happens with him, Bushrod and Stinchcomb; I'm not sure all three will return.  Never hurts to have competent depth. I'm no good when it comes to figuring who's a value guy, but if they can hurt Tampa, Carolina or Atlanta by taking one of their guys, I'm all for it.

The players with four or five years accrued experience will have a (4) or (5) after their names.  Some players have restricted tenders or franchise tags placed on them, which may not mean anything depending on the rules that will govern player movement.  I purposely did not list the kicker and punter positions because the Saints are set there.  Some players listed below will be considered at different positions depending on scheme.  For example, Tommie Harris is listed as a DE, when in most 4-3 systems he's a DT.  You might find some ILB's that are better suited at OLB or OLB/DE hybrids.  The list was hard to find and the position isn't as important for accuracy as is the years of experience.

Quarterbacks:
Marc Bulger – BAL
Todd Collins – CHI
Seneca Wallace – CLE
Luke McCown – JAC
Todd Bouman – JAC
Chad Pennington – MIA
Brett Favre – MIN
Jim Sorgi – NYG
Charlie Frye – OAK
Billy Volek – SD
Matt Hasselbeck – SEA
J.P. Losman – SEA
Alex Smith – SF
Kerry Collins – TEN
Chris Simms – TEN
Rex Grossman – WAS
JaMarcus Russell
J.T. O’Sullivan
Brian Brohm – BUF
Matt Moore – CAR (4)
Caleb Hanie – CHI
Brady Quinn – DEN (4)
Drew Stanton – DET (4)
Matt Leinart – HOU (5)
Trent Edwards – JAC (4)
Brodie Croyle – KC (5)
Tyler Thigpen – MIA (4)
Tarvaris Jackson – MIN (5)
Kellen Clemens – NYJ (5)
Bruce Gradkowski – OAK (5)
Dennis Dixon – PIT
Troy Smith – SF (4)

Running Backs:
Cedric Benson – CIN
Ronnie Brown – MIA
Ricky Williams – MIA
Kevin Faulk – NE
Sammy Morris – NE
Fred Taylor – NE
Julius Jones – NO
Mewelde Moore – PIT
Darren Sproles – SD
Brian Westbrook – SF
Cadillac Williams – TB
Clinton Portis – WAS
Willie Parker
Larry Johnson
Justin Fargas
Tim Hightower – ARI
Jerious Norwood – ATL (5)
Jason Snelling – ATL (4)
Le’Ron McClain – BAL (4)
Lex Hilliard – BAL (4)
Quinton Ganther – BUF (5)
DeAngelo Williams – CAR (5)
Garrett Wolfe – CHI (4)
Mike Bell – CLE (5)
Lawrence Vickers -CLE (5)
Clifton Smith – CLE
LenDale White – DEN (5)
Laurence Maroney -DEN (5)
Kevin Smith – DET
Brandon Jackson – GB (4)
Joseph Addai – IND (5)
Mike Hart – IND
Kolby Smith – KC
Tim Castille – KC (4)
Patrick Cobbs – MIA (5)
Lex Hilliard – MIA (4)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis – NE
Lynell Hamilton – NO (4)
Ahmad Bradshaw – NYG (4)
Danny Ware – NYG (4)
Michael Bush – OAK
Jerome Harrison – PHI (5)
Mike Tolbert – SD
Leon Washington – SEA (5)
Michael Robinson – SEA (5)
Kenneth Darby – STL

Fullbacks:
Vonta Leach – HOU
Heath Evans – NO
Mike Karney – STL
Brian Leonard – CIN (4)
John Kuhn – GB (5)
Korey Hall – GB (4)
Deon Anderson – MIA (4)
Naufahu Tahi – MIN (5)
Ahmard Hall – TEN (5)

Wide Receivers:
Brian Finneran – ATL
Donte’ Stallworth – BAL
T.J. Houshmanzadeh – BAL
Rashied Davis – CHI
Terrell Owens – CIN
Andre Davis – HOU
Braylon Edwards – NYJ
Derek Hagan – NYG
Randy Moss – TEN
Mark Clayton – STL
Santana Moss – WAS
Antonio Bryant
Dwayne Jarrett
Plaxico Burress
Keenan Burton
Brandon Stokley
Dennis Northcut
Troy Williamson
Torry Holt
Laveranues Coles
Steve Breaston – ARI (4)
Early Doucet – ARI
David Clowney – CAR
Devin Aromashodu – CHI (4)
Demetrius Williams -CLE (5)
Chansi Stuckey – CLE (4)
Sam Hurd – DAL (5)
James Jones – GB (4)
Jacoby Jones – HOU (4)
Mike Sims-Walker – JAC (4)
Jason Hill – JAC (4)
Sidney Rice – MIN (4)
Hank Baskett – MIN (5)
Lance Moore – NO (5)
Courtney Roby – NO (5)
Domenik Hixon – NYG (5)
Steve Smith – NYG (4)
Santonio Holmes – NYJ (5)
Brad Smith – NYJ (5)
Johnnie Lee Higgins – OAK (4)
Malcom Floyd – SD (5)
Legedu Naanee – SD (4)
Ruvell Martin – SEA (5)
Laurent Robinson – STL (4)
Danny Amendola – STL
Maurice Stoval – TB (5)

Tight Ends:
Desmond Clark – CHI
Robert Royal – CLE
Daniel Graham – DEN
Mercedes Lewis - JAC (5)
Donald Lee – GB
Bo Scaife – TEN
Jerramy Stevens
Stephen Spach – ARI (5)
Ben Patrick - ARI (4)
Anthony Becht – ARI
Jeff King – CAR (5)
Dante Rosario – CAR (4)
Daniel Coats – DEN (4)
Leonard Pope – KC (5)
Brad Cottam – KC
Joey Haynos – MIA
David Thomas – NO (5)
Kevin Boss – NYG (4)
Zach Miller – OAK (4)
Matt Spaeth – PIT (4)
Derek Schouman – STL (4)
Daniel Fells – STL (4)

Tackles:
Tyson Clabo – ATL
John St. Clair – CLE
Matt Light – NE
Wayne Hunter – NYJ
Khalif Barnes – OAK
Langston Walker – OAK
Ray Willis – SEA
Sean Locklear – SEA
Barry Sims – SF
Jammal Brown – WAS
Jon Jansen
Mike Gandy
Will Svitek – ATL (5)
Jared Gaither – BAL (4)
Marshal Yanda – BAL (4)
Rob Petitti – CAR (5)
Steve Vallos – CLE (4)
Doug Free – DAL (4)
Alex Barron – DAL (5)
Ryan Harris – DEN (4)
Corey Hilliard – DET (4)
Rashad Butler – HOU (5)
Charlie Johnson – IND (5)
Guy Whimper – JAC (5)
Ryan O’Callaghan – KC (5)
Allen Barbre – MIA (4)
Quinn Ojinnaka – NE (5)
Jermon Bushrod – NO (4)
Zach Strief – NO (5)
Mario Henderson – OAK (4)
Jonathan Scott – PIT (4)
Willie Colon – PIT (5)
Jeromey Clary – SD (4)
Jeremy Trueblood – TB (5)
Stephon Heyer – WAS (4)

Guards:
Alan Faneca – ARI
Reggie Wells – ARI
Evan Mathis – CIN
Kyle Kosier – DAL
Tony Ugoh – DET
Richie Incognito – MIA
Trai Essex – PIT
Adam Goldberg – STL
D’Anthony Batiste – ARI (5)
Deuce Lutui – ARI (5)
Justin Blalock – ATL (4)
Harvey Dahl - ATL (4)
Chris Chester – BAL (5)
Tony Moll – BAL (5)
Josh Beekman – CHI
Nate Livings – CIN
Daryn Colledge – GB (5)
Kasey Studdard – HOU (4)
Mike Brisiel – HOU (5)
Kyle DeVan – IND
Mike Pollak – IND
Pat McQuistan – MIA (5)
Ryan Cook – MIN (5)
Kevin Boothe – NYG (5)
Carl Nicks – NO
Max Jean-Gilles – PHI (5)
Nick Cole – PHI (5)
John Greco – STL
Davin Joseph – TB (5)
Leroy Harris – TEN (4)
Will Montgomery – WAS (4)

Centers:
Olin Kreutz – CHI
Casey Wiegmann – KC
Jonathan Goodwin – NO
Damien Woody – NYJ
Scott Mruczkowski – SD
Chris Spencer – SEA
David Baas – SF
Justin Hartwig
Ben Claxton ARI (4)
Lyle Sendlein – ARI (4)
Chris Morris – CAR (5)
Kyle Cook – CIN
Dylan Gandy – DET (5)
Jason Spitz – GB (5)
Rudy Niswanger – KC (5)
Samson Satele – OAK (4)
Mark Setterstrom – STL
Eric Ghiaciuc

Defensive Ends:
Tommie Harris – CHI
Matt Roth – CLE
Marcus Spears – DAL
Cullen Jenkins – GB
Shaun Smith – KC
Gerard Warren – NE
Jimmy Wilkerson – NO
Trevor Pryce – NYJ
Jason Taylor – NYJ
Nick Eason – PIT
Jacques Cesaire – SD
Jason Babin – TEN
Ryon Bingham
Reggie Hayward
Kenny Iwebema – ARZ
Jamaal Anderson – ATL (4)
Charles Johnson – CAR (4)
Victor Adeyanju – CIN
Derrick Robinson – CLE (4)
Jayme Mitchell – CLE (5)
Stephen Bowen – DAL (5)
Jason Hatcher – DAL (5)
Marcus Thomas – DEN (4)
Kevin Vickerson – DEN (5)
Turk McBride – DET (4)
Cliff Avril – DET
Andre Fluellen – DET
Mark Anderson – HOU (5)
Keyunta Dawson – IND (4)
Wallace Gilberry – KC
Nate Garner – MIA
Brian Robison – MIN (4)
Ray Edwards – MIN (5)
Eric Moore – NE (5)
Jeff Charleston – NO (4)
Dave Tollefson – NYG (4)
Mathias Kiwanuka – NYG (5)
Victor Abiamiri – PHI (4)
Jay Richardson – SEA (4)
Stylez White – TB (4)
Tim Crowder – TB (4)
Dave Ball – TEN
Jacob Ford – TEN (4)
Kedric Golston – WAS (5)

Defensive Tackles:
Bryan Robinson – ARZ
Marcus Stroud – BUF
Anthony Adams – CHI
Robaire Smith – CLE
Ronald Fields – DEN
Jamal Williams – DEN
Justin Bannan – DEN
Ron Edwards – KC
Pat Williams – MIN
Anthony Hargrove – NO
Remi Ayodele – NO
Shaun Ellis – NYJ
Kris Jenkins – NYJ
Chris Hoke – PIT
Travis Johnson – SD
Aubrayo Franklin – SF
Chris Hovan – STL
Jay Alford
Tank Tyler
Gabe Watson – ARI (5)
Alan Branch – ARI (4)
John McCargo – BUF (5)
Derek Landri – CAR (4)
Nick Hayden – CAR
Ed Johnson – CAR (4)
Matt Toeaina – CHI (4)
Eric Foster – IND
Antonio Johnson – IND (4)
Dan Muir – IND (4)
Atiyyah Ellison – KC
Tony McDaniel – MIA (5)
Fred Evans – MIN (5)
Barry Coefield – NYG (5)
Brandon Mebane – SEA (4)
Junior Siavii – SEA (5)
Ray McDonald – SF (4)
Clifton Ryan – STL (4)
C.J. Ah You – STL
Gary Gibson – (5)

Outside Linebackers:
Mike Peterson – ATL
Thomas Davis – CAR
Pisa Tinoisamoa – CHI
David Bowens – CLE
Isaiah Ekejiuba – DET
Julian Peterson – DET
Mike Vrabel – KC
Ben Leber – MIN
Tracy White – NE
Scott Shanle – NO
Danny Clark – NO
Keith Bulluck – NYG
Vernon Gholston – NYJ
Leroy Hill – SEA
Matt McCoy – SEA
Travis LaBoy – SF
Rashad Jeanty
Clint Ingram
Angelo Crowell
Stephen Nicholas – ATL (4)
Prescott Burgess – BAL (4)
Keith Ellison – BUF (5)
James Anderson – CAR (5)
Abdul Hodge – CAR (5)
Jamar Williams – CAR (5)
Jordan Senn – CAR (
Nick Roach – CHI (4)
Rod Wilson – CHI (4)
Brian Iwuh – CHI (5)
Brandon Johnson – CIN (5)
Blake Costanzo – CLE (4)
Chris Gocong – CLE (5)
Leon Williams – DAL (4)
Jason Hunter – DEN (5)
Bobby Carpenter – DET (5)
Zach Diles – HOU (4)
Tyjuan Hagler – IND (5)
Clint Session – IND (4)
Justin Durant – JAC (4)
Freddie Keiaho – JAC
Quentin Moses – MIA (4)
Lance Laury – NYJ (5)
Thomas Howard – OAK (5)
Ricky Brown – OAK (5)
Jarvis Moss – OAK (4)
Ernie Sims – PHI (5)
Akeem Jordan – PHI (4)
Antwan Barnes – SD (4)
Manny Lawson – SF (5)
Will Herring – SEA (4)
David Vobora – STL
Jon Alston – TB (5)
Quincy Black – TB (4)
Adam Hayward – TB (4)
David Thornton – TEN
Rocky McIntosh – WAS (5)
Chris Wilson – WAS (4)

Inside Linebackers:
Akin Ayodele – BUF
Hunter Hillenmeyer – CHI
Dhani Jones – CIN
Eric Barton – CLE
Vinny Ciurciu – DET
Landon Johnson – DET
Kirk Morrison – JAC
Kevin Bentley – HOU
Chase Blackburn – NYG
Keith Bulluck – NYG
Stephen Cooper – SD
Kevin Burnett – SD
Takeo Spikes – SF
Barrett Ruud – TB
Reggie Walker – ARI
Tavares Gooden – BAL
Paul Posluszny – BUF (4)
Jason Trusnik – CLE (4)
Corey Mays – KC (5)
Erin Henderson – MIN
Marvin Mitchell – NO (4)
Gerris Wilkinson – NYG (5)
Omar Gaither – PHI (5)
Stewart Bradley – PHI (4)
Brandon Siler – SD (4)
Stephen Tulloch – TEN (5)
H.B. Blades – WAS (4)

Cornerbacks:
Brian Williams, ATL
Fabian Washington, BAL
Chris Carr, BAL
Drayton Florence, BUF
C.C. Brown – DET
Travis Daniels – KC
Al Harris – MIA
Lito Sheppard, MIN
Frank Walker – MIN
Nnamdi Asomugha – OAK
Ike Taylor, PIT
Roderick Hood – TEN
Phillip Buchanon – WAS
Carlos Rogers, WAS
Michael Adams, ARI (4)
Trumaine McBride ARI (4)
Brent Grimes – ATL (4)
Josh Wilson, BAL (4)
Ashton Youboty – BUF (5)
C.J. Wilson – CAR (4)
Richard Marshall – CAR (5)
Corey Graham, CHI (4)
Jonathan Wade – CIN (4)
Marvin White – CIN (4)
Johnathan Joseph – CIN (5)
Fred Bennett, CIN (4)
Eric Wright – CLE (4)
Tye Hill – DET (5)
Brandon McDonald, DET (4)
Chris Houston, DET (4)
Josh Bell – GB
Jason Allen – HOU (5)
Karl Paymah, HOU (5)
David Jones – JAC (4)
Brandon Carr, KC
Eric Frampton – MIN (4)
Kyle Arrington – NE
Leigh Torrence – NO (5)
Usama Young, NO (4)
Will Blackmon, NYG (5)
Drew Coleman – NYJ (5)
Antonio Cromartie – NYJ (5)
Eric Smith – NYJ (5)
Dimitri Patterson – PHI (5)
William Gay, PIT (4)
Dante Hughes – SD (4)
Pat Watkins – SD (5)
Kelly Jennings, SEA (5)
Roy Lewis – SEA
Kevin Dockery – STL (5)
Justin King, STL
Elbert Mack, TB

Safeties:
Matt Ware – ARI
Eric Coleman – ATL
Donte Whitner – BUF
Josh Bullocks – CHI
Roy Williams – CIN
Gibril Wilson – CIN
Gerald Sensabaugh, DAL
Derrick Martin – GB
Eugene Wilson - HOU
Sean Considine, JAC
Michael Huff -OAK
Brandon McGowan – NE
Darren Sharper – NO
Brodney Pool, NYJ
Deon Grant, NYG
Quintin Mikell – PHI
Lawyer Milloy – SEA
Aaron Rouse
Daniel Bullocks
Ken Hamlin
Dawan Landry, BAL (5)
Tom Zbikowski – BAL
Haruki Nakamura – BAL
George Wilson – BUF (5)
Marcus Hudson – CAR (5)
Gerald Alexander – CAR (4)
Danieal Manning – CHI (5)
Chinedum Ndukwe – CIN (4)
Abram Elam – CLE (5)
Sabby Piscitelli – CLE (4)
Alan Ball – DAL
John Wendling – DET (4)
Anthony Smith – GB (5)
Charlie Peprah – GB (5)
Atari Bigby – GB (5)
Bernard Pollard – HOU (5)
Melvin Bullitt – IND (4)
Tyrell Johnson – MIN
Husain Abdullah – MIN
Jarrad Page – NE (5)
Roman Harper – NO (5)
Michael Johnson – NYG (4)
James Ihedigbo – NYJ (4)
Eric Weddle – SD (4)
Paul Oliver – SD (4)
Quinton Teal – SD (4)
Dashawn Goldson, SF (4)
Corey Lynch – TB
Tanard Jackson – TB (4)
Reed Doughty – WAS (5)

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