The New Orleans Saints are facing an increasingly complicated off season when it comes to resigning big name talent on the roster — Drew Brees, Carl Nicks, Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, and Tracy Porter — are all slated to become free agents.
Something has to give, and someone is likely to become the odd man out.
New Orleans is probably hoping to get Brees’ contract in place before the leagues deadline to franchise tag a player comes on March 5th.
Should they complete that deal it would allow them place the tag on either Nicks or Colston to keep them with the team for the foreseeable future.
Currently the general consensus is that Nicks will be the odd man out, even though he is the best guard in the league, as he will want to be paid like the best guards in the league — and that’s a price tag the Saints can’t handle.
Just how the attempted re-signing of these three players pans out will be the most compelling story line for the Saints leading up to the 2012 season.
Corner Tracy Porter is also another on the bubble players, and his future with the team likely hinges on how the Saints view the future of young corner Patrick Robinson — the teams first round pick in the 2010 draft.
Robinson started seven games for the Saints in 2011, and it was apparent that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was beginning to trust Robinson more than Porter in the starting lineup.
He responded with 47 tackles, 15 pass deflections, and 4 interceptions.
Porter meanwhile started 11 games making 52 tackles, 10 pass deflections, and one interceptions.
As it became clear to all last year, Robinson has likely already leapfrogged Porter on the depth chart.
New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is known to prefer the taller and stronger corner body type.
At first glance it would appear that Robinson would bet the favored starter in his defense, and he would likely thrive under new secondary coach Ken Flajole.
Robinson is much more physical than Porter, better in pass coverage, and a much better tackler.
In fact Porter has been criticized of late for poor tackling, often coming in with his head down which results in far too many broken tackles and extra yards for the opposition.
The Saints would most likely want to keep Porter around — he is good, not great — but as the league continues to move towards an ever increasing reliance on the pass good corners come at premium for all 32 teams in the NFL.
But Porter will likely want starter money, and the Saints are going to want to pay him that way.
With Robinson penciled in as the starter, Porter will have to accept less money and the “nickel” role in Spagnuolo’s defense.
When free agency begins on March 13th, and assuming Porter has no deal to return to the Saints, then it’s likely some corner starved team will be willing to give him starter money to make the move out of New Orleans.
If that happens the Saints will deploy Robinson and Greer as the teams starting duo next season, and a corner with their second round pick (59th overall) would be the most likely selection for the team in the upcoming draft.
Porter is not the only Saint who’s future is clouded by a teammate.
Wide receiver Devery Henderson will count for nearly $4 million dollars towards the salary cap next season if he remains on the roster.
He is a prime candidate for release, but his future will depend on what the team is able to do with impending free agent Robert Meachem.
If the Saints can’t re-sign Meachem then Henderson is safe, however if they do get him back under contract then Henderson will have to re-structure his 2012 salary or be shown the door.