Free agency started off with a whimper for the New Orleans Saints with them only releasing LB Will Herring and restructuring the contracts of LB Jonathan Vilma and DE Will Smith. These moves put the team under the salary cap with NOLA.com's Larry Holder putting the number at $5.4 million and WWL-TV Sports saying it's $7.8 million.
The Saints also lost three of their players to the market with backup QB Chase Daniel leaving for the Kansas City Chiefs, LT Jermon Bushrod headed to the Chicago Bears on a 5-year deal that will give him around $7.2 million a year, and LB Jonathan Casillas signed away by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After the initial buzz, Saints faithful were less than pleased with the front office and wanted something, anything, to be done.
Well, patience will hopefully be a virtue in the end and Thursday is looking like the day for some moves from the team. The reason for the delay is painfully clear after since the Saints still don't have much room to work with as far as salary cap goes. They also need to look at Roman Harper's contract, as well as other "in house" players who are on their roster considered to be free agents that they'll wish to re-sign or let go.
It's actually best that the Saints let some of the fever die down so that they can take a calculated approach to the current players they have as well as potential free agents. The team of course needs help with their pass rush as well as the secondary. While some talent remains, the Saints may not be able to afford a top end player looking for a multi-year deal.
LB Victor Butler's name has been called many times over the past few weeks for a fair priced addition as well as fellow Roby Ryan connection S Gerald Sensabaugh. Both players were under Ryan for the last two years and could flow right into his system. LB James Harrison is also available but his name is being circulated around the Baltimore Ravens.
Amazingly, there are still plenty of cornerbacks left on the block if the Saints are looking to upgrade. Keenan Lewis, Sean Smith, Brent Grimes, and Cary Williams are just a few of the names in the crowded defensive back market. Veteran Antoine Winfield became available after being cut by the Minnesota Vikings and could be a good grab by the Saints. His age(36) could lead to a low contract number and along with him being a solid player would make him attractive to an ailing secondary unit.
Before the Saints can do any of this though, Harper's contract will have to be dealt with, as well as other possible cuts making more cap space available. The Saints shouldn't go too hog wild though. One dark cloud looming over next year will be TE Jimmy Graham who will be a free agent and the Saints for sure will need plenty of salary cap space to make sure he stays.