Saints Free Agency Update: QB Jake Delhomme And DE James Hall In For Visit, Long Snapper Jason Kyle Re-Signed, RB Mike Bell Back From Seattle Without Contract
By Keith Null
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis confirmed today that the Saints are currently meeting with recently released Panther quarter back Jake Delhomme and free agent defensive end James Hall. They have also re-scheduled their meeting with defensive end Leonard Little to a later date.
Delhomme, a former backup in New Orleans from 1998 to 2002, joined the Panthers in free agency before the start of the 2003 season and quickly was awarded the starting job. That season Delhomme would pilot the Panthers to a 14-2 record enroute to Super Bowl XXXVIII only to fall to the New England Patriots 32-29.
Arguably that was Delhomme’s best season as a Panther and during his seven years there he threw for 19,258 yards, 120 touchdowns and 89 interceptions for a combined passer rating of 70.64.
Delhomme began to draw harsh criticism after throwing 5 interceptions in the divisonal round of the 2008 play-offs against the Arizona Cardinals and speculation began to run rampant the Panthers may part ways with the aging quarterback after the play-off meltdown.
Instead in the off-season they signed Delhomme to a lucrative five year contract extension to the dismay of fans and NFL analysts alike and the franchise vowed to move forward with him as their starting quarterback going into the 2009 season.
It turns out that 2009 would be the last for Delhomme in a Panther uniform after his play continued to decline throwing four interceptions in an opening day loss to the Eagles followed by four more in a week eleven loss to the Dolphins for a total of 18 before being benched in favor of backup Matt Moore.
Despite the fact the Panthers owed Delhomme nearly 13 million dollars they released him anyway, a move that speaks volumes of the intent they had to distance themselves from him and hand the keys to the franchise over to Moore .
Delhomme will not get a crack at the starting job in New Orleans but instead will be relegated to Drew Brees’ backup with status of current veteran backup quarterback Mark Brunell in limbo. Brunell played sparingly last season but did start the week sixteen game against the Panthers where he looked his age with an erratic and sub-par performance.
After the release of defensive end Charles Grant this off-season the Saints are currently seeking help on the defensive line and are meeting with Rams defensive end James Hall.
Hall, a ten year veteran, has spent the last three seasons with the Rams posting 115 tackles, 13.5 sacks and two pass deflections. Prior to being in St.Louis Hall spent seven season with the Detroit Lions from 2000-2006 enjoying his best season as a pro in 04 when he posted 11.5 sacks.
It’s unclear if the Saints think enough of Hall to make him the primary starter but at 33 years old the club may want to look at a younger prospect if available in free agency, they always have speed rusher Bobby McCray to fall back on.
Mike Bell, a key member of the Saints three headed rush attack, met with the Seattle Seahawks this past Saturday after being tendered an offer from the Saints at the lowest acceptable level (1.5M). Bell left without an offer from the club which represented his best chance at landing with another team for higher pay.
It was rumored that the Eagles and Browns were both interested in meeting with Bell but seemingly those rumors have cooled off as of late and now seem to be nothing more than mis-information. Bell most likely will be a Saint in 2010 as there seem to be no more suitors for his services at the moment.
Long snapper Jason Kyle, who joined the Saints in June of last season by way of the Panther,s has been resigned to a one year deal. Kyle appeard in all sixteen regular season games and three post season games for the Saints in 2009.
Kyle’s arrival in New Orleans was met in controversy as it was thought the release of former long snapper Kevin Houser was a vendetta move by Saints brass for his involvement in a failed movie tax credit deal in which head coach Sean Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jeremy Shockey, and former defensive end Charles Grant among others all lost substantial amounts of money.
Currently Shockey and Grant are suing Houser over the failed investments that run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in a U.S. District Court.