This week I will be discussing several free agents I would like the Saints to look into signing, provided they have the cap space. The team needs (in my opinion) are LB, DE, CB, and S. Here are just a couple of free agents that I think the Saints would benefit pretty well from.
I will be going position by position in my team needs, starting with:
1. Paul Kruger, OLB. This dude is an above average linebacker with nothing but a bright future ahead of him. He can also put his hand in the dirt and be used as a defensive end, if needed. He provided a big boost for the Ravens last year in Ray Lewis' absence. Accounting for 42 total tackles, 9 sacks, and an INT. Sure those aren't JJ Watt numbers by any means, but those numbers can provide a huge boost to a defense lacking a dominant defensive end.
2. Victor Butler, ILB. I've seen connections between the Saints and Butler because of Rob Ryan. Butler played in Dallas last year under Rob Ryan and had a pretty productive season. Racking up 25 Tackles, 3 Sacks, and 2 forced fumbles; Could be worth a shot if the team could get him cheap enough.
3. Takeo Spikes, ILB. – It was announced today that Spikes was released from the San Diego Chargers. Spikes has been productive (Last season, finished with 78 total tackles and half a sack) over the course of his relatively long career, and I wouldn't oppose the move if the Saints brought him down to the Big-Easy at the right price. I have a feeling he will choose retirement though.
There wasn't a whole lot of "talent" at the linebacker spot, so I picked the 3 most intriguing.
1. Cliff Avril – This dude's a beast. Some say he's a product of a good defensive line with Ndamukong Suh anchoring the middle, but I'm not buying it. I think Avril is his own player and he could be a star no matter what colors he puts on every Sunday. He has been a sack machine over the course of his 4 year career in the NFL. Racking up 39.5 sacks, this guy is exactly what the Saints' defense and Rob Ryan need to light a fire up under them and get it going in NOLA.
2. Connor Barwin – The more I see him, the more I like this kid. Had a miserable 2012 season. Usually productive on the defensive line, Barwin had only 3 sacks and 1 safety this past season, compared to his 11.5 sacks the year before that. Not sure what would be to blame for his regression, but he's still young in the league, and can bounce back and get back to being productive.
3. Dwight Freeney – Sure, he's old. Sure, he's damaged goods. He's productive. I don't remember seeing the Dwight Freeney that I saw back in 2009 in a while. It seems like the middle-to-the-tail-end of his career has been somewhat injury plagued. I'm not talking major injuries like ACLs or any of that, but lingering injuries from seasons passed. Not my first choice, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in Black and Gold, at least for a couple seasons.
1. Aqib Talib – Former Buccaneer, Talib has had issues with off the field problems. That being said, he's a good corner that could add significant amount of fire to the Saints' defensive backfield that seemed to bleed yardage all of last season. Had a good run with the Patriots, but nobody really knows if he will be resigned or not.
2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) – Despite what others may think about him, I still believe he can be productive in this league. DRC kind of got a raw deal when he was traded to Philly from Arizona. Seemed like nobody wanted him, and he went from a bad defense to a worse defense. I think he could be a starter for the Saints if given the opportunity to compete for the job.
3. Cary Williams – Starting for Baltimore after LaDarius Webb went down last season, Cary stepped in beautifully for the Ravens, putting up 75 total tackles, 4 picks and 1 pick-six. I think that was his audition for a significant payday from another team.
4. Tracy Porter – I don't exactly understand why the Saints let him go to free agency in the first place, but all I know is that he could add valuable depth to the position. Sure he was never the star corner on the team (at least before they made the postseason), but he was productive. I wouldn't mind seeing him come back to New Orleans.
1. Ed Reed – You guys knew this was coming. Reed is a future hall of famer, and is in the discussion for the best safety of all time. Reed could add that other dimension to the Saints defense that they have been lacking since Sharper retired. A ball-hawking safety goes such a long way with a defense. The Saints would have to hope that Reed gave them a home-state discount so they could sign him, but you never know with these things. It would make my offseason if Ed Reed was playing in Black and Gold next season.
2. Charles Woodson – Name speaks for itself. Charles Woodson epitomizes production. Recently moved from CB to S, you could plug this guy in at both spots. I put him under safety because that's his primary position now. The past couple of years have been marked by injuries though, going back to Super Bowl XLV. You'd be taking a risk on a player like this, but in the end; who wouldn't want to take that chance?
3. Dashon Goldson – Good safety. Been pretty productive in San Fran the last couple of years. There were times that I have seen this guy give up the big play, especially in these past playoffs. Aside from the couple big plays he let get by him, I like Goldson for the most part. Pretty productive and consistent and I would like to see him in New Orleans next year. The lingering question then becomes: "How much would he cost?"
That's all for this week. I would like to know your thoughts on my list, and are there any amendments that you would make?