Regardless Of Malcolm Butler Saints Still Need Veteran Presence In Secondary

Denver Broncos v New Orleans Saints

For the New Orleans Saints, “Malcolm Butler Watch 2017” continues and for fans of the team it has moved into almost the annoying stage of the game as the New England Patriots cornerback hasn’t signed his restricted free agent tender yet to get the process moving.

Questions about why the team and Butler, who are said to have had a good visit this past Wednesday and Thursday, haven’t hammered out a deal is getting Who Dat’s riled up one way or another.

One section of the fanbase is ready to welcome the All-Pro corner with open arms while others are trending with the “system corner” narrative and fearful that he could be the second coming of Brandon Browner and don’t want to relinquish what will likely be multiple draft picks and a big contract to acquire him.

I’m of the camp though that although tedious, it’s not a simple process and details about what will be trade compensation are probably ongoing or as the popular narrative has been spread by local and national media:  “There’s a lot of moving parts.”

But regardless of the status of Butler the one thing that has concerned some, including myself, is that the Saints are at the point where adding a veteran secondary presence has from all appearances taken a back seat.

Regardless Of Malcolm Butler Saints Still Need Veteran Presence In Secondary
HOUSTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 11: A.J. Bouye #21 celebrates his sack with Whitney Mercilus #59 of the Houston Texans against the Chicago Bears in the second half at NRG Stadium on September 11, 2016 in Houston, Texas. Texans won 23 to 14. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Sure it’s been reported by’s Herbie Teope that the Saints took a shot at corners like AJ Bouye and Marcus Cooper during free agency.

But with free agency moving into the late stages, the talent pool is drying up for the team to add a corner or safety or both to help with what has unfortunately been the norm the past few years with injuries.

The Saints relied on one-year wonder signings last season like B.W. Webb and Sterling Moore to make the corners “C student” level with Delvin Breaux injured.

At safety they had to force rookie Vonn Bell into more action along with a “Gran Torino” Clint Eastwood-aged Roman Harper playing more snaps than he or the team(definitely fans) had hoped for with a still not quite right Jairus Byrd and Kenny Vaccaro who missed five games with four due to a suspension.

     Harper:  “Get off my lawn!”

     Opposing receiver/tight end/running back:  “Oh yeah… catch me old man!!”

Moore and Webb were once again free agents along with others that filled the same hole-plugging role in 2015 such as corner Kyle Wilson and safety Jamarca Sanford who were both placed on injured reserve before the the start of the 2016 season.

After his play last year, it seemed like a forgone conclusion the team would re-sign Moore and he told SiriusXM NFL Radio he had “full intentions” on returning but decided to test his value in free agency which didn’t appear to be much, since it was reported on Tuesday that he re-signed with the Saints on a one-year deal.

It may not blow the average person away but for the Saints this was a smart move to bring back not only a player with experience but leadership he provided in a jambalaya secondary that likely would have been worse without him.


Regardless Of Malcolm Butler Saints Still Need Veteran Presence In Secondary
NEW ORLEANS, LA – DECEMBER 06: Kenny Vaccaro #32 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after recovering a fumble against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 6, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)


With Byrd gone now, Bell and Vaccaro are the assumed starting safety tandem with CFL project Erik Harris returning from injured reserve along with Chris Banjo and Shiloh Keo who all three are all really special teamers.

Did I mention Harris was on injured reserve?

At safety it’s basically the same with two former Saints in Rafael Bush and Isa Abdul-Quddus(both free safeties) along with another free safety Bradley McDougald(pictured below) and T.J. McDonald(strong safety) still on the market.

Regardless Of Malcolm Butler Saints Still Need Veteran Presence In Secondary

All four are coming off seasons that saw them have two interceptions along with playing fairly well.

Regardless whether it’s corner or safety, most of the available free agents could likely be had for a one-year veteran minimum that could pay dividends, which to put it into perspective Moore was signed last year for $760,000.

I’d like to believe the Saints are paying close attention to the dwindling market at these positions but there is still that nagging feeling eating away at me that also believes the team thinks they are “okay for right now” as they seemingly(more like hopefully) are heading into the homestretch of the Malcolm Butler saga.

No matter how it plays out with Butler though, the Saints should keep their secondary needs right up there with improving the pass rush because I shudder to think what it will be like if this alleged “wink wink nod” deal with New England goes South and you’re back to cut and pasting players in.


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