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Could Carl Nicks Return to the Saints?

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The prodigal Pro Bowler could lend the Saints some nice o-line depth.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I'm semi-wrong sometimes.  In the 2012 offseason, I was tremendously frustrated that the Saints wasted their franchise tag on Drew Brees before inevitably giving him the large contract we were always going to give him and let Carl Nicks walk.  In Nicks and Jahri Evans we had the best pair of guards in the league, guys who had been the thrusting pistons driving the engine of one of the best offenses in league history (I don't know much about cars).  But Nicks got injured almost immediately in Tampa and ended up playing just nine games there in two years and we signed Ben Grubbs, who made the 2013 Pro Bowl and has been a solid performer for us.

But the fact is that the offense has not been the same since Nicks left.  Brees has been sacked, hit, and hurried more in the last two years than any other time in his Saints tenure, due in part to declined play from the center and left tackle spots (though Terron Armstead has stepped up nicely) and partly because Grubbs just isn't as good as Nicks was.  The old Nicks is never coming back, but this team could use some quality interior line depth and a familiar face may be just what the doctor ordered.

It's hard to emphasize too much the extent to which Nicks's career has fallen apart.  A Google profile now refers to him as a "former football player" and his Wikipedia article makes reference to an imminent but unofficial retirement.  However, Nicks is only 29 years old and is more than two years removed from the toe injury that cost him so much time and is now working out for NFL teams including the Saints.

I know that being chosen over retirement has its pitfalls (remember Olin Kreutz?), but I'm all for it.  This guy was a key part of the the Saints golden era, and at the very least he can restore some order to the clubhouse and remind the guys what it's like to have a championship mentality.  Also, if he's moving anything like the Nicks of old, he could be more than a great clubhouse guy and shore up that interior line that's been declining in recent years.

I'm aware that offensive linemen don't provide us with the visceral memories that guys at the "skill positions" do, but the thought of having Jahri Evans, Jonathan Goodwin, and Carl Nicks in the trenches together again really lifts my spirits. These Golden Era Saints may be growing long in the tooth by football standards, but I love the idea that one more of the old gang could come home to roost in the city that loves him.