The New Orleans Saints have been quietly active in NFL free agency this offseason with the quality signings of Victor Butler and Kenyon Coleman, but should the front office keep that train rolling and bring in former Green Bay Packers safety Charles Woodson?
There are not a lot of reasons to hate the idea.
For one, it makes all too much sense from a financial standpoint. As of now, the Saints have just over $2 million in free cap space (per CanalStreetChronicles). Harper represents a $5.25 million cap hit this season and is set to make $6 million next year according to Spotrac.
The Saints could free up some cap space by releasing Harper outright or at the very least asking him to take a pay cut. This would also make room for Woodson, who would come at a very cheap price because he has generated next to no interest from other teams according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport:
Charles Woodson says on @NFL_AM he hasn't heard from Ravens "or anyone else, for that matter" in FA. Acknowledges he's considered "ancient"
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 5, 2013
Outside of financial reasons, it is also worth mentioning that Woodson would be a massive upgrade at strong safety. Look no further than ProFootballFocus’ rankings (subscription required) at the position from a year ago. Woodson graded out as the No. 37 overall safety in the league. He had high marks in coverage and run support.
On the other hand, Harper came in at No. 87 overall. The list only ranked 88 players at the position. It’s laughable, but really shouldn’t come as that big of a surprise considering Harper was a weak link last season on one of the worst defenses in NFL history.
There is something to be said about the age issue. Harper is only 30, but it’s pretty clear he is either on a serious decline or just does not care anymore. Woodson is already 36, so it’s hard to tell how long he will be able to continue playing at a high level. At most, the Saints would get one to two quality years out of him.
Another issue that is killing Woodson’s stock on the market is his recent battles with injuries. He only appeared in seven contests last season thanks to injury. It’s something the Saints will have to consider when pondering whether or not to make the leap of faith from Harper to Woodson.
Saints fans will of course remember the last time the team brought in a high-profile veteran at the position when Darren Sharper came to town and the team went on to win a Super Bowl.
New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is installing his own 3-4 scheme and could use a veteran presence such as Woodson to lead the unit. Despite the amount of veterans in the locker room last season, the unit was undisciplined and set records in all the wrong ways. Perhaps a man with Woodson’s leadership skills could help right the ship when paired with a character such as Ryan.
So how do the Saints move forward? Save some cap space and potentially upgrade the secondary with Woodson? Or stick with Harper? We want to know what you think! Let us know!