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2012 NFL free agency preview: defensive end

By Editorial Staff
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The buzz is in the air, formers Ram Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has been hired as the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, and that means changes are sure to happen on that side of the ball before the start of next season.

I know that I’m excited, but what kind of changes can we expect during the off season, and what kind of moves can we look for the Saints to make to improve the play of the defense?

The Saints defense, under Steve Spagnuolo, will have to rely on a heavier pass rush from the front four — unlike Gregg Williams system where he frequently blitzed linebackers and defensive backs.

Spagnuolo is not known to blitz often, but his “fire zone blitz” helped the Giants to a league best 53 sacks in 2007, followed by 47 and a sixth overall ranking in 2008.

Knowing this I would like to take a quick look at some of the top pass rushers who may become available in free agency this year.

1. Indianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis

Mathis is the same age as Saints starting right defensive end Will Smith at 30, but he has produced at least 9.5 sacks or more over the last four seasons.

But Mathis plays on the left side in Indianapolis, which could compliment Smith, however that would leave rookie Cameron Jordan as the odd man out at left defensive end.

He also will likely command a large pay day on the open market and New Orleans probably can’t afford to pay him and Smith considering the Saints are trying to re-sign quarterback Drew Brees to a new lucrative deal.