Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints, and three key defensive free agents

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Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) heads upfield while pursued by Cleveland Browns middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson

With free agency coming up on March 13th at 4:00pm, and the deadline of March 5th to apply a franchise tag on players quickly approaching, talks have been heating up.

There has been a lot of intriguing rumors coming out of the New Orleans Saints organization which all hint at HUGE changes coming for next year.

Shutdown cornerback Stanford Routt was released on Thursday just one year into a $54.5 million, five-year contract which Al Davis gave him, ending his seven-year tenure in Oakland.

He was the Raiders second round (38th overall) pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

In 2007, Routt missed the first two weeks of the season due to a knee injury.

He played opposite of star Nnamdi Asomugha, where he recorded 35 tackles along with three interceptions and seven passes deflections, despite teams targeting him over Asomugha.

In Asomugha’s final year in Oakland, Routt had 49 tackles and 13 passes deflected to go along with his two interceptions, one of which was for a touchdown.

The Raiders let Nnamdi go after failing to resign him after he became an unrestricted free agent due to his contract containing a clause where his contract became void if he failed to achieve certain incentives.

The clause also prohibited the Raiders from placing the franchise tag on him.

After Nnamdi’s departure, Routt became the premiere cornerback for the Raiders.

He remained consistent with his performance with 42 tackles, 15 passes deflections, to go along with his four  interceptions, even though he was thrown at less than prior years.

The New Orleans Saints, who just hired former St. Louis Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo as Defensive Coordinator after Gregg Williams left to take the Rams position as Defensive Coordinator, will definitely take a look at Routt.

Routt is everything Spagnuolo wants in a press cornerback.

He has the size at 6’1, and the speed the Saints need on the outside.

At the 2005 NFL Scouting Combine, Routt ran the fastest 40 yard dash at a time of 4.27 seconds, breaking the combine record of Deion Sanders.

His record was eventually broken by running back Chris Johnson with a time of 4.24 in 2008. He has the skill set to be able to cover the top receivers in the NFC, and the size to contest any pass thrown his way.

In order for this to happen, however, the Saints would have to part ways with current cornerback Tracy Porter, unless Porter is willing to take significantly less money to remain on the team.

It’s doubtful he will take less money due to teams like the Bills and Chiefs, among others, who will more than likely offer him a nice price to play for them.

Routt, however, is in high demand.

Vann McElroy, Routt’s agent, said his client is scheduled to visit the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans. McElroy did say teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings have also shown interest in him.

The Dallas Cowboys have cornerback Terence Newman under contract. They would have to release Newman in order to really make a run at Routt, but in the long run it’d save them money.

The Dallas Cowboys are also prepared to offer Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks a significant amount of money should the Saints choose to not place the franchise tag on him.

If they decide to pursue Nicks it could make it difficult for them to sign Routt.

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Tags: 2012 Free Agency Cliff Avril D'qwell Jackson Detroit Lions Jonathan Vilma New Orleans Saints Oakland Raiders Stanford Routt Tracy Porter

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