The Saints are faced with a tough dilemma, do they sign a veteran free agent running back or hope that youngsters P.J. Hill and Chris Ivory will emerge as viable options to replace Lynell Hamilton.
Hamilton was lost for the season when he tore his ACL this past Wednesday during a joint practice session with the New England Patriots, he was inline to replace running back Mike Bell who departed for the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this year.
P.J. Hill is a promising young second year player but has yet to be tested with much real game experience. Ivory on the other hand is a rookie with zero NFL playing experience. Can the Saints fell confident going in to the 2010 season with either one?
Hill and Ivory both saw their fair share of playing time in last nights first pre-season game against the Patriots and while neither played poorly it was clear they were not one hundred percent comfortable in the lineup.
The only option left to explore to replace Hamilton is for the Saints to sign a free agent to bring in for competition but the question remains who is available?
They did meet with ex-Raiders back Justin Fargas earlier this off-season but he just signed with the Denver Broncos as did Lendale White after his release from the Seattle Seahawks.
Ladell Betts is still available after the Saints flirted with the idea of adding the veteran backup into the mix even before the injury Hamilton, he would appear to be the most viable option.
Former Bear running back Adrian Peterson is also on the market but it is arguable that he is better than Betts. He is however know to be an excellent pass protector and valuable special teams contributor.
Jamal Lewis, who met with the Saints less than a month after their Super Bowl victory, is another option at running back. He has had a long productive career highlighted by a 2,066 yard 14 touchdown season in 2003.
In Lewis’ case the question becomes how much does he have left in the the tank after 2,542 career rushing attempts.
So where do the champs go from here?