Linebacker Joe Mays, who was reportedly hosted and pursued by the Saints during free agency, has decided to re-sign with his former team – the Denver Broncos. Mays was one of several named players the Saints had as targets to improve what’s been an atrocious linebacking core the last couple of years. Unlike the “first wave” of free agency that saw numerous wide receivers and guards get snatched off the market, and now quarterbacks, the linebacker position seems far behind in terms of priority. The Saints acted fast to retain Marques Colston and replace Carl Nicks, but they’ve gone dark making any moves since then. Part of the reason for the inactivity is the market hasn’t been set as linebackers are waiting for contracts. I’m also assuming, based on the Saints’ cap status, they haven’t been able to land any of these guys because they’re offering discount deals hoping the chance to play for the Saints is appealing enough.
The other players still on the Saints radar are…
Seattle’s David Hawthorne, Atlanta’s Curtis Lofton and St. Louis’ Chris Chamberlain. The Saints also looked at Lofa Tatupu, but he opted to sign a contract last week with the Falcons. Bringing back incumbent starter Jo-Lonn Dunbar is still very much a possibility as well. Based on the lack of activity combined with the volume of players they are “looking at”, my guess is the Saints feel all these guys would be an upgrade over what they have now and they’ll take whichever one of them is willing to accept a low ball offer. So far none of them have, butthe longer these guys go un-signed, the more likely they may accept to go for it. Losing Mays may tilt the scales back the other way, but the fact that the Saints have already hosted so many of these veterans makes it clear they know they need to add some talent at a position that’s largely been devoid of it in recent years.
I’m personally pulling hard for Hawthorne. While I’d love to land Lofton as a jab to the Falcons, I think that’ll prove too expensive. Hawthorne is a thumper that’s got a terrific nose for the football and is tremendous in run support, AND he’s had 7 interceptions in 3 seasons. He’s the kind of complete linebacker the Saints desperately need. I’m hoping for him. Chamberlain seems more realistic of the three, though, because he played for Spanuolo and he’ll likely command the lowest salary on the open market.