With teams allowed to apply the franchise tag to players as of Monday, fans and media are keeping a close eye on teams in the NFL.
The Kansas City Chiefs made the first big signing this offseason by acquiring former Oakland Raider cornerback Stanford Routt today.
As the Saints approach the NFL Combine Wednesday, there’s no doubt that General Manager Mickey Loomis and the Saints scouts will be keeping an eye on the defensive players.
The Saints who finished 24th in overall defense, were 12th against the run in the league, and 30th against the pass. The Saints however, were 13th in points allowed in the NFL, allowing 21.2 points per game.
New Orleans opted out of giving former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams an extension, and he departed for St. Louis.
The Saints then hired Steve Spagnuolo to replace Williams, who was fired as Head Coach of the St. Louis Rams.
Steve Spagnuolo who started with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, where he served as linebackers and defensive backs coach, spent eight years with the Eagles under Jim Johnson, studying his defensive philosophies.
In January 2007, Spagnuolo joined the New York Giants under Head Coach Tom Coughlin.
The New York Giants, who held the top three scoring offenses to 20 points or less, on their way to winning the Super Bowl against the previously undefeated New England Patriots.
They became the third team in NFL history to win three road games en route to winning a Super Bowl and set a league record for most consecutive road wins in a season with 11.
Steve Spagnuolo was the architect for the New York Giants current scheme in which helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in 2011.
He relies on generating pressure from the front seven. This is something the Saints had a major issue with last season.
Current defensive ends Will Smith, Cameron Jordan, Jeff Charleston, and Junior Gallette had only a combined 13 sacks in 2011.
Will Smith is currently the highest paid player on the Saints roster and he certainly hasn’t played like it.
In 2011, Smith had 6.5 sacks to go along with 35 tackles. He currently has a six year, $61 million dollar contract and is due $7 million in base salary, and costs the Saints a cap hit of $9.7 million in 2012.
The Saints will likely ask Smith to restructure his contract or else he could be cut in order to free up cap space in order to re-sign other key players.
One of the players the Saints could be looking at is Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
Umenyiora told ESPN radio Monday that he won’t be surprised if he is traded this offseason.
With former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo now in New Orleans, it make sense for the Saints to consider trading for Umenyiora, who had 13 sacks in 2007 under Spagnuolo.
Umenyiora last season had 25 tackles to go along with recording nine sacks and two forced fumbles.