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Saints Free Agency Update: Bye-Bye Bell?

The action is starting to heat up in this, the Saints first ever post-Super Bowl off-season. Yesterday, the team went on a tenderizing spree, making offers to eleven restricted free agents in addition to the two made yesterday to Zach Strief and Usama Young, bringing the grand total to thirteen RFA offers. Here is the full list of restricted free agents, for those of you keeping score at home...

  • Jammal Brown (tendered 1st and 3rd round - $3.619 million)
  • Roman Harper (tendered 1st round - $2.521 million )
  • Lance Moore (tendered 2nd round - $1.759 million)
  • Zach Strief (tendered 2nd round - $1.759 million )
  • Jermon Bushrod (tendered 2nd round - $1.684 million)
  • Pierre Thomas (tendered 2nd round - $1.684 million)
  • Anthony Hargrove (tendered 3rd round - $1.226 million)
  • Dave Thomas (tendered 3rd round - $1.176 million))
  • Courtney Roby (tendered 3rd round - $1.176 million)
  • Usama Young (tendered 3rd round - $1.101 million)
  • Marvin Mitchell (tendered 7th round - $1.101 million )
  • Remi Ayodele (tendered $1.101 million )
  • Chris Reis (tendered $1.101 million )
  • Tory Humphrey
  • Kyle Eckel
  • Rodney Leisle
  • Anthony Waters
  • Jahri Evans
  • Leigh Torrence
  • Mike Bell
  • Jeff Charleston

No surprises to me as far as the players who received tenders. All are deserving. There are, however, two players on the list who didn't receive offers and it's got me quite alarmed: Jahri Evans and Mike Bell.

Noticeably absent from the list is All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, but there's no reason for alarm.

Whew! Thanks Times-Pic. He's going to get a big boy contract. But what about Mike Bell?

Okay, so I'm not really alarmed that Mike Bell wasn't offered a contract but it's still interesting. There's definitely time left for an offer to be made but I'm thinking other than Jahri Evans, the Saints are finished with their tender offerings. In an attempt not to over pay, the Saints may let Bell hit the market and agree to match the best offer he receives. But like Darren Sharper said earlier this week...

"...if you want someone back, why are you going to let them test the market?,"

Ouch! So does this mean we get to fire up all the the LaDainian Tomlinson talk for real this time?

I was listening to Jeff Duncan discuss this very topic with Bobby and Deke on WWL's Sports Talk while driving to dinner last night. All of them thought Drew could very well be the reason we might see LT in a Saints uniform next season, so long as he was willing to accept a limited role in the Saints running back rotation.

If the LT talk remains pure speculation, then it could mean the Saints will definitely draft a running back at some point in this years draft. We know they almost traded up for Beanie Wells last year so that definitely within the realm of possibility. Or they might feel their running back is "already in the building." We'll just have to wait and find out.

The other thing to watch is the situation at offensive tackle. Though we don't know the details, Jammal Brown was tendered an offer and not signed to any long-term or significant deal. Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief were also made offers so I would say the Saints are definitely looking for another team to bite on any one of them, most likely Brown or Bushrod. I'm with coldpizza; I'd like to see that happen.

One last point I wanted to make before turning it over to all of you. I'm sure most of us can agree that the new rules regarding free agency in the uncapped year are certainly a little confusing but opinion seems to be divided as to whether they're beneficial or harmful to the post-Super Bowl Saints this off-season. John DeShazier of the Times-Pic appears to be one of those "glass is half empty" people, judging from his latest article, "Free agency rules don't favor New Orleans Saints." He feels...

The rule changes that have gone into effect this year, the final year of the collective bargaining agreement between owners and players, certainly don't do the Saints any favors.

Specifically, this one: The final four playoff teams aren't allowed to sign any unrestricted free agents unless they lose one first, and they can only sign a new player at a similar salary level...

...Sure, it's a fact that New Orleans already has proven it has enough stars to reach the top. It'd be nice if the rules allowed them to bring in one or two more in the effort to stay there.

This may be true but I'm an optimistic kinda guy. How could you not be after this season. So I've got to disagree with John on this one. After all, if the Saints have "enough stars to reach the top" then we should be thankful that the other new free agency rules making certain players restricted free agents who would normally be unrestricted, also help keep some of those stars - like Jammal Brown, Roman Harper, Pierre Thomas, Jahri Evans and Anthony Hargrove - in New Orleans and away from greedy teams looking to pluck Super Bowl talent. Two sides to every coin. Hopefully after next season is over, we'll all be celebrating the Saints good fortune of winning their first Super Bowl directly before an uncapped season, giving them a better chance to win their second.

Lots to discuss here, so start talking.