Now that free agency is beginning to slow down (for some teams), it's time to prematurely start choosing the winners and losers based nothing on performance and everything on personal opinion. It's like grading a draft the day after it's over: absolutely meaningless.
And just like the 2011 NFL Draft, the Saints have been chosen as one of the big winners by much of the mainstream media. They've even gotten good marks from the fine folks at SB Nation headquarters. Check out what our own Andrew Sharp had to say about the Saints moves this off-season and how it bodes for the team this season.
To the New Orleans Saints... Awesome. Smart teams do things one way, dumb teams do things another. A dumb team might's have paid big money to re-sign one of their most recognizable superstars (Reggie Bush). The Saints let him walk, though, and replaced him with Darren Sproles, a guy who comes cheaper than Bush, does everything Reggie did, and arguably does it better.
(Also, this has nothing to do with free agency, but Mark Ingram seems destined to be one of those random running backs who racks up 1,500 yards for the next five years, so they deserve some credit for the draft, too.)
They also added the 49ers' franchise player in 2010, Aubrayo Franklin, on a low-risk one-year deal that lands them the best free agent defensive lineman on the market. Nothing New Orleans did was all that sexy, but it's little moves-like choosing Sproles over Bush and going after overlooked guys like Franklin-that separates the good teams from bad in the NFL.
So the Saints have now kicked ass in the draft and free agency. Let's just go ahead and label them the 2011 off-season champions and call it a day. If only it equated to an automatic Super Bowl victory.
I hate to sound like a homer but I really can't disagree with any of this. It's nice to know that people on the outside also recognize the wisdom and talent that are Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton. Of course none of this means a damn thing when games start actually being played. But it's got to count for something, right?
I'll let you read the entire article from Mr. Sharp so you can find out about the other winners and losers. Then talk about it right here.