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NFL Free Agency 2014: Replacing Darren Sproles

Below are answers to reader questions submitted Sunday. Special thanks to all those that participated. Feel free to continue the discussion on any of these topics in the comment section below.

Since Sproles is gone, do u think we go for D Archer in the 2nd rd? I think many underestimate that Scat Back role Bush AND Sproles had in our offense. - F. Bazz

I honestly have no idea who the Saints are going to target in the draft. That is still two months away. I won't do any speculation on the draft until we see what needs the Saints address in free agency and what needs remain. I strongly encourage you to do the same. I will say, however, that I think it's unrealistic to expect a second round draft pick to immediately replace a proven veteran as talented as Darren Sproles. Can it happen? Absolutely. But it's a long shot. Draft picks usually take a year or two to fully develop. If you want the Saints to find an immediate replacement for Sproles, you've got a much better chance of finding it in free agency.


If/when the Saints release/trade Pierre Thomas, how do you feel about the backfield duo of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson? Would you expect the Saints to add another running back to the roster via draft, free agent, or UDFA? - Ryan E.

Free Agency. Any rumors in the conversation period? Dexter McCluster could be a Sproles type player and he is only 25. - Rock K.

I could easily see the Saints attempting to replace Darren Sproles with Dexter McCluster. They replaced Reggie Bush with Darren Sproles; it wouldn't surprise me if they did it again. McCluster is coming off a Pro Bowl season with the Chiefs, his best as a receiver with 53 catches for 511 yards. More importantly, he was killer in the punt return game (686 yards and two TDs!). But he was barely utilized as a running back. Not surprising considering the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles in the backfield. But his 2011 stats (516 rec, yards, 328 rush yards) indicate that he could definitely be a duel threat like Sproles. Plus, the Saints could really use a playmaker in the return game. He should be relatively affordable, not a bank-breaker, probably in the $3 million a year range.

There's only one hitch, the team definitely has more pressing needs to address, so signing McCluster would be a luxury pick up. Especially if they plan on signing a new center and right tackle to go along with their potential new balanced, ball control offense.

Adding McCluster or a player similar, however, would throw that theory right out the window. Which is why I think it's a little too early to speculate about sweeping offensive philosophy changes. We'll just have to wait and see. Whether or not they do would point to whether wholesale offensive changes are coming or they plan to keep on keeping on.


What do you think of Detillier's take here? - Hans P.

O. Tackles will come off the F/A board quick. Saints will have to make strong move to resign Zach Strief or get ready to make quick FA sign.

I think Detillier is spot on, as usual. Since they've decided not to re-sign Zach Strief yet, I think offensive tackle is the Saints biggest need in free agency. The only tackle currently on the roster that I trust at all is Terron Armstead. If they still don't re-sign Zach Strief then they need to grab a decent one in free agency, which means acting quickly. If they don't do either, I think we should all be seriously concerned this season because finding one in the draft this year isn't a solution for the now, but more for a year or two down the line. Protecting Drew Brees in the twilight of his career is not a matter to be taken lightly.


BOD has been missing in Action...What did you do with the body? - Chad L.

I have no idea where Beware of Dog has gone. He never alerted me to any absence beforehand. I hope everything is alright in his personal life. The good news is that he has disappeared for long periods before only to resurface later, so this isn't completely unusual.