2/10 – Saints hire DC Rob Ryan, and Stan Kwan as Asst Special Teams Coach
The Saints got their man, as they quickly announced that they would swap to 3-4 after Payton was brought back in to the mix. Ryan brings a certain fire with him, for lack of better phrase, and while he was not the most popular choice with Who Dat Nation (see Romeo Crennel), I personally trust in Coach’s decision. Ryan was cut loose because of his ‘lack of turnovers’, but there is no arguing what he did for a terrible Dallas defense before he took over. He made guys like Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee, and Demarcus Ware better. What’s probably the most head-scratching of him being fired is that he still managed to have a defense produce even with the amount of injuries they sustained.
Forgotten in the buzz of the Rob Ryan hire was the addition of Stan Kwan, who brings 22 years of coaching experience to the table, and most recently had a stint with the Buffalo Bills for several seasons. We haven’t forgotten the meltdown we suffered in New York at the hands of the Giants on Special Teams.
2/14 – Saints re-sign TE Michael Higgins, S Rafael Bush, & G Eric Olsen
Quietly good moves for the Saints. Rafael ‘Faux Reggie’ Bush filled in a fair amount during 2012. Bush, 25, proved that he was up to the task (given the situation), and comes at a price tag of $550K. I look for his role to continue to develop this season, and could be a nice little gem for us down the road, at the absolute very least, in the special teams game. Higgins was also signed for a $550K price tag. He brings depth, and at 25, his role may not be heavy, but in run blocking, could see more time. Olsen, 24, signed a 1-year deal worth $555K. He was signed originally in January of 2012, and saw some action with injuries to regular starters.
2/15 – Saints restructure contract of LB Curtis Lofton
No doubt, this was a sign of things to come from Mickey Loomis, as Lofton was officially the first part of the equation. Lofton was due $7.1M, but the Saints got Lofton to $3.1M this year, with a $5M Signing Bonus that is pro-rated over the remainder of his contract.
2/19 – Saints waive CB Johnny Patrick (Claimed by San Diego), and terminate contract of TE David Thomas
My take is simple on this one. Patrick was due to be a huge presence as our Nickel corner, but injuries plagued him, and ultimately led to his undoing. As far as David Thomas, no one could say he would be ruled out of a return (however the Ben Watson signing squelched that). Releasing Thomas saved the Saints $1.7M in cap space, and Patrick freed up about $469K.
2/25 – Saints name Wesley McGriff as Secondary Coach
McGriff spent his time at Ole Miss last season, and served as a co-defensive coordinator & cornerbacks coach. McGriff is a veteran in the college system, and for those who forget, Ole Miss went from being 2-10 in 2011 to 7-6 in 2012. McGriff is also known for developing secondary talent like Sam Shields, Kenny Phillips, Yeremiah Bell, and Brandon Harris. Perhaps the most overlooked thing of this entire equation? McGriff was a Top 25 Recruiter for Ole Miss.
2/27 – Saints restructure contracts of G Ben Grubbs, LB David Hawthorne, WR Marques Colston, & G Jahri Evans
The moves helped tremendously, as it helped the Saints get down below the cap, which was something they desperately needed. Evans went from $7.2M against the cap to $3.04M against the cap, which freed up $3.12M. Hawthorne went from $4.76M to $2.51M, saving the Saints $2.05M. Grubbs base dropped from $5.2M to $1.2M against the cap, saving us $3M in the long run. The payoff was Grubbs was handed a $4M signing bonus up front. Colston’s move freed up $2.1M in space for the Saints.