I was busy enjoying my day off yesterday so I was late to the Scott Fujita pity party. Since I didn't really have time to weigh in on the situation then, I'd like to take a few moments now to share my feelings.
I think it sucks.
Not because I think the defense just lost a great player that will be difficult to replace. For all the reasons I'm upset about seeing Fujita leave, that's probably the least important and most debatable. But more because of the simple fact that he just seemed like a really good guy. It wasn't just talent that carried the Saints to a Super Bowl championship; it was also character and Scott Fujita was a big part of that. Not many players would have the courage to speak out on issues like gay marriage. Whether you agree with his stance on the subject or not, you've got to respect his bravery for saying it and defend to the death his right to say it.
This move also signals the unofficial start of the 2010 off-season for the Saints and brings the realization for its fans that next season is already upon us. The NFL's Circle of Life straightens for no one, not even Who Dat Nation or Scott Fujita. Super Bowl XLIV and the 2009 season are quickly becoming just a memory, something to be talked about in fond remembrance. Fujita's departure represents the first step in truly distancing that memory. And that's just sad. But I offer a sincere thank you to Scott Fujita for his service. I'm glad he was able to earn a ring with the Saints here in New Orleans. It's just a shame he won't be here to earn another one.
Like everything in life, there is a positive side to this story. The good news in all of this is that the Saints can now start taking a look at signing an unrestricted free agent and maybe a pretty decent one at that. Since Fujita's deal with the Browns was worth $14 million over three years, the Saints can sign someone in the same range. Possibly an outside linebacker or maybe a defensive lineman? I will leave that for all of you to discuss. It also opens up the strong possibility that the Saints attempt to upgrade Fujita's position via their first round draft pick.
One more free agency note not related to Scott Fujita but rather Darren Sharper. Like last off-season, it appears Sharper isn't getting as much attention on the market as he might have thought. Somewhat surprising actually, though perhaps teams view him as a system player. If he doesn't attract any suitors, at least not at the level the Saints are willing to pay him, and winds up staying in New Orleans but for significantly less than if the team had tendered or tagged him, we've got to applaud the front office for their brilliant cheapskatery.