The Saints are still shopping for a possible replacement to Charles Grant after his release earlier this off-season on the heels of an injury riddled past two seasons, tearing his triceps muscle in both.
Defensive end Alex Brown was recently released by the Chicago Bears after the team was unable to shop him for a satisfactory trade with another team and is now meeting with Saints brass.
Brown, a nine year veteran, has played for the Bears since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2002 draft. He was awarded the starting right defensive end position seven games into the season where he has been ever since.
Brown finishes his career in Chicago with 43.5 sacks, 375 tackles (55 for a loss), five interceptions and 15 forced fumbles. He appeared in 127 consecutive games, missing one game in the last eight years.
The only question mark for Brown joining the Saints is if he can play the left defensive end position as he has spent his entire career on the right side in Chicago, that position in New Orleans is of course filled by Will Smith who tallied 13 sacks last season.
Sometimes a switch from the right side of the defensive line to the left, and vice-versa, can wreak havoc on a players timing and jump at the snap.
It may seem trivial but the muscle memory of how a player spins, steps forward and throws an arm up to rush the passer can vary drastically on each side of the line.
To demonstrate while standing imagine yourself lined up on the right side with a defender off your right shoulder.
Pretend the ball is snapped and instinctively you should dip to your right as you move forward with your left hand out, now pretend your were lined up on the left you dip to your left with your right hand out.
A player like Brown who has lined up on the right side and gone through these motion thousand upon thousands of times has burned it into muscle memory and could experience issues converting to the opposite side.
Brown however is currently the prized pass rusher available in free agency and the Saints desperately need depth across the defensive line.
He has been a consistent and durable player and should be good for 50 tackles and six sacks a season barring any issues he may have with the switch. That ouput is consistently better than Grant’s over the last few seasons.
If they don’t sign him someone will and it is rumored the Panthers and Buccaneers both are interested.
So far the Saints have lost out on several key free agents this off-season including defensive end James Hall and defensive tackle Jamal Williams, Hall re-signed with the Rams and Williams with Denver before ever meeting with team officials.
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