With the season coming to an end this Sunday following the Superbowl, it's time to focus on the offseason. There's been some talk about who we should re-sign, who we should pursue in FA, and what we should do in the draft. I'm going to take a look at all of this and give my opinion (for what it's worth) on each subject.
WHO SHOULD STAY, WHO SHOULD GO
Let's start with the obvious, who should we re-sign. I think we can safely say that we need to re-sign Drew Brees. I think it would be a safe assumption to say that Brees' contract will be on par with those of Brady and Manning (about 4-5 years with an $18mil/year average). Next up is Carl Nicks. He is a key part of our OL and probably our best O-lineman. He has mentioned that he would like a little more than teammate Jahri Evans' contract (7yrs/$56.7mil). Third on the list is Marques Colston. Last year, Colston's base salary was $3mil. In comparison, Roddy White made $4mil and Andre Johnson made $6mil. I think Colston would fall somewhere in the middle or around $5mil (let's say 3yrs/$15mil).
That's a lot of money to invest in just 3 players (all on offense). Not to mention Robert Meachem, Tracy Porter, Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers are all free agents as well. In my opinion, if Colston leaves, we need to re-sign Meachem for depth. I think Porter will get a good deal of money thrown his way and may leave. I wouldn't mind giving Franklin another cheap deal, but I think Rogers will not be given another shot. So, how can we possibly re-sign all these guys?
Personally, I think Will Smith will become a cap casualty. He hasn't lived up to his large contract. Cutting him would free up about $6mil. Scott Shanle and David Thomas may also become cap casualties. Courtney Roby may also be shown the door. As good of a special teams player as Roby is, he takes up a valuable roster spot, and let's not forget the fumble on the kick return (which he doesn't do regularly anymore) vs the 49ers. I think Joe Morgan will take his role as well as possibly contribute as a WR, esp. if Meachem or Colston don't re-sign.
I've noticed some people here say that we need to trade up in the draft to get a more elite defensive player. I've also seen people argue that it wasn't worth trading up last year for Ingram. These people are entitled to their opinion, and so am I. I liked trading up last year for Ingram. Ingram contributed 474 yards rushing and 5 TDs as a rookie. A full offseason will only help him. I think we can all agree that our window to win it all is open as long as Brees is our QB. What about 4-5 years from now? Well, maybe Brees will find the fountain of youth and play forever, but most likely he will be nearing the end of his prime, if not his career. At the same time, Ingram (and perhaps Ivory) will be in his prime as a running back. A solid running game could provide a smoother transition for a younger QB.
Having said all that, I would prefer that we trade down this year. I don't see this draft as real deep or real strong. In other words, I don't see much difference in drafting in the late second or late fourth rounds. I think there is a lot of talent to be found, but the scouting dept. will have their work cut out for them and I have faith that they can find good players in the mid to late rounds.
What I'm more excited about is seeing last year's draft class develop. I have already mentioned Ingram, but I really think we can potentially solve some defensive problems with our guys that we drafted last season. Martez Wilson started to come on strong towards the end of the year. Cam Jordan also appeared to play better late in the year and he is solid, if unspectacular. The key piece is Greg Romeus. I am excited by his potential to be an every down DE that can really get after the QB. I have high hopes for this guy.
A lot of who we sign in free agency depends on who we re-sign. I wouldn't expect a whole lot here. I would LOVE to have Mario Williams, but it's not likely to happen. However, if by some chance we would lose BOTH Colston and Nicks, we might have enough room to sign a big name FA. Personally, I would prefer we re-sign our guys and maybe grab a couple underrated, special teams contributors or role players.