Offseason Overview: Saints Hope Upgraded Defense Will Result in 2006 Form

Bush hoping to have high hopes

Franchise Player: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

• S Jay Bellamy was a 14-year veteran last season and doesn’t figure into the team’s plans for 2008.

• QB Jamie Martin will not be back after the Saints signed Mark Brunell.

• CB Fred Thomas was a healthy inactive for nine games last season and will not be re-signed.

• DL Renaldo Wynn played well after being signed off the street early in the season and had 3.5 sacks, he won’t be offered a new contract.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

• QB Mark Brunell: UFA Redskins; 2 yrs, $1M SB, other terms unknown.

• CB Randall Gay: UFA Patriots; $12M/4 yrs, $3.75M SB; 2008 cap: $1.688M.

• CB Aaron Glenn: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.

• C/G Matt Lehr: UFA Buccaneers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• DE Bobby McCray: UFA Jaguars; 5 yrs, terms unknown.

• LB Dan Morgan: FA Panthers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• LB Jonathan Vilma (traded Jets).

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

• WR Terrance Copper: Potential UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• C/G Jonathan Goodwin: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• PK Martin Gramatica: Potential UFA; $730,000/1 yr.

• WR Devery Henderson: UFA; $$950,000 base salary/1 yr, SB unknown.

• TE Eric Johnson: UFA; $1.025M/1 yr, $200,000 guaranteed.

• TE Billy Miller: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• OG Jamar Nesbit: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• WR David Patten: UFA; $3.25M base salaries/2 yrs, SB unknown.

• MLB Mark Simoneau: UFA; terms unknown.

• RB Aaron Stecker: UFA; $1.4M/1 yr.

• DT Brian Young: UFA; $12M/3 yrs, SB unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

• DE Josh Cooper (released).

• C Jeff Faine: UFA Buccaneers; $34.5M/6 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

• S Steve Gleason: UFA; retired.

• PK Olindo Mare (released/failed physical).

• LB Matt McCoy: Not tendered as RFA/Buccaneers; terms unknown.

• LB Brian Simmons (released).

Two years after appearing in the NFC Title game, the Saints are hoping to get back to that form in 2008 after a down 2007 in which they went 7-9. The team was hit hard with injuries, as well as inconsistent play by a defense that allowed 24.3 points per game and 245 yards per game through the air. They worked hard to address those needs, moving up in the draft to take USC’s Sedrick Ellis in round one with the 7th pick, and CB Tracy Porter with their second round pick. They also worked on defense in free agency, signing corners Randall Gay and Aaron Glenn, as well as linebackers Dan Morgan and trading for Jets LB Jonathan Vilma.

While the defense should be better once they play with one another for awhile, it will be up to the offense to regain that 06 form that made them as dangerous as any team in the league. Drew Brees will look for more from WR’s Marques Colston, and with the hope that Deuce McAllister is back, the team can go back to using he and Reggie Bush in a rotation, which worked well in 06. Look for Bush to be more involved in the offense, as he struggled last season, but has dedicated himself to be active with the team in the offseason and be more committed. The Saints should be back closer to the form of 2006 than the under .500 team of 07.

Offseason Grade to Date: A-


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