NFL Free Agency 2013: Should Saints Target Brent Grimes?

Otto Greule Jr

A perpetual thorn in the side of the Saints for over five seasons, Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes will become available this off-season. Should the Saints take a look at the former All-Pro corner?

Recruiting talent across enemy lines is nothing new for the Saints-Falcons rivalry. Notably, Bobby Hebert, Morten Anderson, and Joe Horn have all played for Atlanta after years of service in New Orleans, and most recently Curtis Lofton left Atlanta to join the black & gold.

Most franchises know the top players of their division rivals almost as well as they know their own. A known commodity switching allegiances serves dual purposes, it strengthens your team and weakens your rival. All the more reason to take a good look at signing a player like Brent Grimes, especially considering how high the stakes have been between the Saints and Falcons in the NFC South recently.

Philadelphia native Brent Grimes has played exclusively for Atlanta since 2007. Grimes, who turns 30 this July, is coming off of a season-ending achilles tear suffered in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season.

Here is a look at Grimes' career stats:

Season Team Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
G GS Comb Total Ast Sck SFTY PDef Int Yds Avg Lng TDs FF
2012 Atlanta Falcons 1 1 6 6 0 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0
2011 Atlanta Falcons 12 12 49 37 12 0.0 -- 14 1 29 29.0 29 0 1
2010 Atlanta Falcons 16 16 87 76 11 0.0 -- 23 5 84 16.8 36 0 0
2009 Atlanta Falcons 16 8 66 62 4 0.0 -- 13 6 17 2.8 11 0 0
2008 Atlanta Falcons 12 6 34 30 4 0.0 -- 6 1 25 25.0 25 0 0
2007 Atlanta Falcons 2 0 12 11 1 0.0 -- 0 -- -- 0.0 -- -- 0

Over his career against the Saints, Grimes has been, at worst, a nuisance and at best, a player Drew Brees has looked to the other side of the field against. In six career games against the Saints between 2009-2011, Grimes compiled 30 solo tackles and 2 interceptions.

Here is what our friend Dave Choate over at The Falcoholic had to say of Grimes:

Two years ago, there would not have been any question of signing Grimes to an extension. A year ago, there were grumblings, but most wanted him back. This year, it's an open-ended question of whether the Falcons will bring back the one-time Pro Bowler and annually underrated cover man.

If injury were not a factor, it would be nearly a lock. Grimes has been excellent in coverage throughout his run in Atlanta. He's a solid tackler and a guy with a knack for the interception, and Pro Football Focus has a crush on him. But we don't live in a world where you can discount an Achilles injury that costs you 15 games.

Injury or not, Grimes finds himself getting crowded out of the Falcons secondary with Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson starting at corner and contractually locked up through 2015 and 2016 respectively. The one and only "positive" regarding his season-ending achilles injury is that Grimes may have to take less for a season and play it out as a contract year which will absolutely maximize his value to a potential suitor.

This is how ESPN's Adam Schefter views Grimes' situation in 2013:

If Grimes didn't blow out his Achilles' tendon back in September, he'd be clearing out space in his house so the Brinks truck can pull in. Instead, he's going to have to prove he still has the speed and effectiveness following the devastating injury. Turning 30 in July, it's more than fair to be skeptical.

The Falcons would like to bring back Grimes, but he's coming off a significant injury that will prevent Atlanta and others from rewarding him with the type of contract he could have gotten if he was healthy. Grimes might look to sign a one-year deal worth a decent amount of money, which allows him the chance to get back to playing and proving he is worth the big money he could have gotten.

Without question, the recovery of the achilles injury is the biggest concern here. Will the speed still be there? Can he make the cuts and pivots necessary to play at the level he is accustomed to? That is the million dollar question. But, the positive for the Saints is that it will not be a multi-million dollar question.

Brent Grimes may just be worth the gamble at the right price. Great instincts, speed, and athleticism at a discounted price on a one year contract doesn't come around all too often. The Saints situation at cornerback after Jabari Greer is decidedly grim, and upgrades will have to be made by the front office.

Mickey Loomis has shown he's not afraid to take risks on "damaged goods" in the past. Drew Brees made him look good, and I'm sure Drew would love to not have to see Grimes lined up against his weapons twice a season.

What do you think Who Dat Nation? Would you like to see the Saints pick off Brent Grimes from Atlanta? Leave your comments and opinions below!

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