We still don't know what's going to happen at left tackle for the Saints. Jermon Bushrod is an unrestricted free agent, assuming the lockout ever gets lifted, so he'll have a chance to test the free agency waters. How much money will be be able to command on the open market? Your guess is as good as mine.
Bushrod has never blown my mind as a great player by any means, but he's improved enough to merit discussion as to whether or not he's a legitimate starting left tackle in the NFL. Good tackles don't grow on trees, so there will be some interest in him.
The Saints are in a tough position there because they've already made Jahri Evans the richest guard in NFL history, and you have to assume Carl Nicks' impending long-term deal isn't going to go for that much less. Jonathan Goodwin is also an unrestricted free agent and at this point I would think the Saints would like to have their Pro Bowl center back.
Where does that leave Bushrod? My guess is that if Bushrod can be had on the cheap, the Saints will extend a reasonable offer to him, but with the competing interests of teams around the NFL desperate for offensive line help, that may prove too little.
At the end of the day, if another team offers Bushrod big money, the Saints won't match it. I'm pretty confident of this. He's a decent and improving player, but we've all seen his shortcomings and he's just not worth overpaying for.
After winning the Super Bowl and investing long term in their core pieces, the Saints are going to start facing tough decisions like this more often. Their cap number as is is not in a great place. That's why guys like Randall Gay, Devery Henderson and Reggie Bush are at risk, and it's why Jeremy Shockey was sent packing. In order to sign Drew Brees and Nicks to long term deal this offseason, that's also going to play into why the Saints can't really offer Bushrod much. You have to pick and choose where you're going to invest your cap space, and that's starting to become a harsh reality. They can't keep everybody, and the Saints will have to pass on investing in some players that have really helped them.
Personally, I think Bushrod is gone. Someone will offer him $2+ million a year, and the Saints will bid him farewell. I don't know if Charles Brown is ready to start, and I don't think the Saints know that. But I do believe they're still going to throw him in the fire and hope he can perform well. I'm sure the Saints are also hoping that playing next to Carl Nicks will help ease Brown's transition into the fold as a full time player. The Saints will then probably eventually sign some veteran free agent tackle with a decent track record for a quarter of the price Bushrod gets on the open market, just in case Brown can't cut it.