With all of the discussion lately centering around people's places of residence, player suspensions, and whatnot, how about we get back to what truly matters - the team? ESPN put out this chart today that lists each teams' potential free agents going into the 2011 season (or whatever remains of it after the CBA negotiations). The Saints top the list at 27 players. The word "potential" is used because any new collective bargaining agreement will impact who is or is not a free agent.
Under the old system, we would have 23 unrestricted free agents (four years or more of service) and 4 restricted free agents (three years of service). Will the new CBA stick to these guidelines or is there a possibility it will change in some way? No one knows.
According to Mike Triplett, this is the complete list of the Saints' potential free agents:
6 years or more experience: LB Scott Shanle, C Jonathan Goodwin, S Darren Sharper, FB Heath Evans, DT Anthony Hargrove, DE/DT Jimmy Wilkerson, RB Julius Jones, RB Ladell Betts, LB Danny Clark, LB Kawika Mitchell, S Pierson Prioleau, S Matt Giordano.
5 years: S Roman Harper, WR Lance Moore, TE David Thomas, OT Zach Strief, WR/KR Courtney Roby, CB Leigh Torrence.
4 years: RB Pierre Thomas, OT Jermon Bushrod, DT Remi Ayodele, DE Jeff Charleston, LB Marvin Mitchell, S Usama Young, S Chris Reis, TE Tory Humphrey, RB DeShawn Wynn.
3 years: G Carl Nicks, K Garrett Hartley, LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar, LB Anthony Waters.
He goes on to say this about other potential moves and renegotiations involving other players:
The Saints may also consider releasing or restructuring contracts with some other veteran players, including tailback Reggie Bush, tight end Jeremy Shockey, receiver Devery Henderson and cornerback Randall Gay, among others. And they will likely sign quarterback Drew Brees to a lucrative contract extension this offseason as he heads into the final year of his current deal.
Who do you think will stay with the Saints and who do you think will go elsewhere? How about we each list who we think are the top five players among these potential free agents (or other players currently under contract, if you want) that Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton will most try to retain and then also list the bottom five we think won't be with the team anymore. Here's my guess:
Top five to keep:
- Carl Nicks
- Jonathon Goodwin
- Roman Harper
- Remi Ayodele
- Jermon Bushrod
The five most likely gone:
- Matt Giordano (I don't even know who this is)
- Ladell Betts
- DeShawn Wynn
- Julius Jones
- Darren Sharper
There's a lot more that I think the Saints will make a serious effort to retain, but that's just my best guess for the top five. I think Pierre Thomas is higher up on the "retain" list than some people think.
What's your best guess?