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Let's be Frank: The Tank?

I've seen plenty of rumors lately connecting the Saints to defensive tackle Tank Johnson, formerly of the Chicago Bears. Chicago waived Johnson following a myriad of legal problems, including two gun-related arrests. As part of the punishment for his arrests, Johnson will serve an NFL-mandated 8-game suspension, so any team that signs him will do with the intention of deploying him during a late-season playoff push.

Johnson was only scheduled to make $510,000 this season, so if the Saints sign him they would be forced to pay about $240,000. Johnson is valuable enough that somebody will sign him before the season starts. The question is, are the Saints comfortable enough with their depth at DT that they want to take a flyer on Tank?

The Saints' rotation at DT consists of presumed starters Hollis Thomas and Brian Young, along with Kendrick Clancy, Antwan Lake, Rodney Leisle and Brandon Villareal. That's a solid, unspectacular group. Nobody in that group is on Johnson's talent-level; that's not an indictment on the group, Johnson is a very good player. He could take this defense from good to excellent.

That's why the Saints should sign Tank Johnson.

Hear me out: Johnson is pretty much on his last chance in the NFL. If he gets his act together, he can be an excellent player at a key defensive position. He's fairly young, 25, and is entering his prime at a key defensive position. He still has the chance to be an excellent, valuable player in this leage for a long time. Besides, not every player is Pac Man Jones.

If he doesn't, the Saints can release him at a minimal (by NFL standards) cost.

This would be a calculated risk, but one with little potential for catastrophic blow-up. If Tank gets arrested again there will be a sizable backlash, including the requisite "These NFL players just don't get it" self-righteousness. But the Saints aren't the Bengals: since most of the news about the team is overwhelmingly positive, the vitriol will be primarily focused on the player, not the team.

The current Saints have built up an impressive cache of public good will, particularly Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. They should leverage their overwhelmingly positive environment and take a chance on a guy who could be a valuable asset.

Again, it's a gamble, but the potential payoff far outweighs the potential loss.