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Saints News: 6.12.08

Hey guys, guess what!! Will Smith signed got his new contract! Bet you haven't heard that news yet! Actually, the RotoWorld Widget I have on the sidebar is really good and always has the breaking news, so you can always keep it here for the latest. Anyway, I think we all should have seen this coming. Not too surprising. Good news I think. For those of you living in a cave here is the link for the Times-Pic coverage and some of these quotes.

"The Saints really stepped up," said Smith's agent, Joel Segal. "They continue to sign their core players as they demonstrate a strong commitment to winning."

"We're excited about getting this long-term contract done with Will," General Manager Mickey Loomis said in a press release. "We view him as one of our core players and look forward to having him (make) an impact on our defense for years to come."

AOL Fanhouse covers the story also and the only reason I mention it is because I think they raise a good point.

But with the money tied in its ends, the team will be hearing some deserved scorn from its fanbase if they're not a terror for quarterbacks.

This is very true. The three of them had better have great seasons. It would be a huge disappointment if Will got complacent this season, if Grant was distracted off the field or McCray turns out to be a bust.

John DeShazier of the Times-Pic thinks otherwise and says we have nothing to worry about per this article. The end of the piece sums it up well.

What he has done, and likely will continue to do, makes his cash-in hundreds of times better, and more deserving, than giving similar money to a first-round draft choice that might, or might not, live up to his potential.

And it sends the right kind of message to his teammates, that if they handle their business on the field and play well, they'll be taken care of when the time comes.

The Saints, in fact, have made a good habit of doing just that. They've done a good job of paying market value, which has prevented some of their best players even from wanting to test the market.

So place this one in the Money Well Spent file.

Place it there because the Saints were smart, and Smith hasn't done anything to suggest he'll do something to make the franchise look any other way.

The Sun Herald also had its own coverage of the Will Smith contract signing. Here are some interesting facts.

The contract makes Smith the third highest-paid defensive end in the league behind Indianapolis' Dwight Freeney and Minnesota's Jared Allen, and one of the highest-paid defensive players in league history.

The Saints have one of the highest-paid defensive end duos in league history as well.

Part of the article compares Smith and Grant.

Comparing the statistics between the Saints' two pass rushers during the past four seasons, Smith's numbers have been better, and thus Smith's contract is more lucrative. Grant compiled 21½ sacks while Smith tallied 33½ sacks. Smith was only a full-time starter for two of those seasons, but Grant lined up with the starting unit for all four years.

Both Smith and Grant were first-round draft picks by the Saints. Grant went 25th overall in 2002 and the team selected Smith in 2004 at No. 18.

Apparently we wasted our money on Charles Grant.

The Times-Pic once again did their Live Chat Talk Saints with Jimmy Smith.

On Weakside Linebacker and Marvin Mitchell.

Dennis, what's wrong with the position now? There's not much wrong with Scott Shanle. No one has beaten him out yet and he's a fairly stout player against both the run and pass. I think the Saints are happy with the position. If you've noticed, the moves they've made at the linebacker spot in free agency the last two years have been in the middle, even though Mark Simoneau has yet to relinquish his spot.

Jacque, Marvin Mitchell has been getting plenty of action with the first unit in the practices we've seen because the staff is still holding Jonathan Vilma bck a bit because he's recovering from knee surgery. Those reps with the top guys can do nothing but help Mitchell in the long run. We haven't seen him work too much on the outside yet. Don't think the Saints will go after anyone else at that position.

On Adrian Arrington.

From what we've seen so far of Arrington, Ronnie S, he seems to be a player with plenty of potential. I don't think the Saints, at this point anyway, would expose him to waivers, but again, lots can happen between now and the time the final roster cuts have to be made. If they want him on the practice squad, if he can't make the 53-man roster, he'll have to go on the waiver wire. Injuries could play a part in the decision making, or Arrington might be so good this summer that he wins a spot outright.

On Mark Campbell.

Doug, the Saints do a lot of personnel switching with their tight ends, depending the play and the formation. But if it's a running down, I do see Campbell on the field. The running game certainly suffered in his absence last season. He's the best blocking tight end on the roster, and Payton admitted that this week in a post practice interview. He's an underrated receiver, I think, who has good hands and can be productive in the passing game. But he's invaluable in the running offense.

On Hollis Thomas and Defensive Tackle.

Weight is always going to be an issue with Hollis Thomas, Michael B, and he has been shirting in and out of the rotation with Sedrick Ellis, as has Brian Young. What I think, though, is if anyone is in trouble it might be Young. I think Thomas' energy and his ability to fill up the middle in the rushing defense is important. Then again, the Saints like to do a lot of rotating in and out of linemen to keep bodies fresh. Clancy and Harris are OK, but neither is as good as Young and Thomas. By the time the season rolls around, Thomas wil be in shape to play the 20 or so plays he's needed, but Ellis' presence improves the position.

On the return game.

There's no question one of the priorities this season is to improve the return game. The Saints, don't forget, made a change at the special teams coordinator position this season when John Bonamago took a similar position in Miami. The Saints didn't put up much of a fight to keep him, so you have to think they weren't happy with the overall performance of the special teams. Green has looked good in what we've seen, d Kode/Gretna Saints fan. It's a wide-open battle right now. It would't be surprising if Green can make the team strictly on his return ability, though.

On Usama Young.

It's great to hear from all those Usama Young fans. I think Young had a little bit farther road to travel to be mentioned in the same breath as some of the current cornerbacks in camp. But he is making progress. While he might have been considered a reach as a No. 2 pick, it's hard to say whether this is why Mueller fell out of favor with Payton. Suffice to say, Payton didn't like some of the personnel moves the Saints made but he isn't saying which ones he took exception to and Mueller, given the opportunity last week, declined to comment.   Let's wait and see what Young looks like when they put the pads on in Jackson before we say whether he has a shot at more playing time this fall.

On Reggie Bush.

Having Bush around this offseason will definitely help him in the eyes of his teammates, some of whom were not pleased last year when he decided to stay and work out in California. It's too early to think the Saints might be shopping him, but certainly he'd have a great deal of value to someone. Remember the Herschel Walker deal that netted the Cowboys all those draft choices which Jerry Jones turned into the core of Dallas'   Super Bowl run in the 1990s. But let's give Bush   another training camp, and at least the early par t of the regular season, to see if he can still be a threat in the Saints offense. He was diminished last year by the absence of Deuce McAllister. He's a vital part of the plan if he has other people around him, as evidenced in his rookie season.

On Robert Meachem.

I'm told that Payton really liked Robert Meachem coming out of college and that it was Payton who pushed for the pick. So to answer all you Meachem fans out there, if Meachem was, in fact, a Payton choice, he'll be getting every opportunity to prove he can play in the NFL. He won't be a starter, but from what we've seen so far, he's vastly inmproved over last year when he was hurt and out of shape. He hasn't worked his way up to the third receiver spot yet, but Devery Henderson might have to start looking over his shoulder.

I noticed the Times-Pic hasn't come out with anymore of those odd home movies with David Gladow. Maybe they realized they were a little freaky.

Also still haven't heard anything about Marques Colston and why he was missing from OTAs. Have I missed something guys? Maintaining this site usually means I am pretty on top of it. Is this just being ignored?

This one got my blood boiling. For those CSC readers who are currently living in NOLA and even those who aren't, maybe you will agree. The article is from Mike Florio at the Sporting News and its about potential teams that could move their franchise to Los Angeles. Yep, that means the Saints were on the list.

New Orleans Saints
The NFL is unlikely to abandon New Orleans as it continues a slow recovery from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. But, sooner or later Saints ownership and league officials will have to face the difficult reality of running a big-league sports franchise in a city that might never return to the big leagues in terms of business or population.

We hope the Saints remain a fixture in New Orleans for as long as there's an NFL. Still, pro football is driven more by business interests than sentimentality. In the end, the dollars and cents might make the Saints a no-brainer candidate for a move.

WHAT!? "...a city that might never return to the big leagues in terms of business or population!?" I will agree its going pretty slowly down here, but if our city was good enough before the storm to support the Saints it will most certainly be as good if not better post-K! Has the dome not been sold out the last two years? Is there not a waiting list to get season tickets? Give me a break with this one.