There is no doubt that Darren Sharper silenced critics who questioned whether the 34 year old could still make an impact after fading into near obscurity with the Minnesota Vikings when coming to the Saints before the 2009 season.
By now Sharper’s 2009 season is well known to all that follow the NFL, nine interceptions to co-lead the league three of which he returned for touchdowns, but the question of late is what exactly the Saints plan to do with him heading into free agency.
To franchise or not to frachise him, that was the real question for New Orleans.
Speculation ran rampant on that very subject as conflicting reports surfaced on whether or not the Saints would indeed franchise him, a move that would guarantee Sharper 6.45M on another one year contract.
Many believed that 6.45M for a 34 year old safety was more than a reach in today’s market and the Saints instead should let Sharper hit the market to match or better any offer he may receive.
That’s exactly what the Saints will do, barring a contract put in place before free agency begins March 5th, Sharper will be allowed to hit the market and let the chips fall where they may.
Most likely the Saints will be able to re-sign Sharper at a greatly reduced rate from 6.45M, but some team could come out of the woodwork and make a blockbuster deal that New Orleans would not be willing to match.
That is a risk that apparently the Saints are ready to take.
The Bears pursued Sharper last off-season and as of now are considered the top contender for his services. It seems far fetched that Sharper will not be a Saints in 2010 as both sides have expressed the want to get a deal done.
If Sharper does indeed hit the market he will join a short list of marquee players in free agency that include Julius Peppers, LaDainian Tomlinson and Jamal Lewis.
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