Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis (23) defends a pass against Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant during the second half at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
3/4 – Saints restructure contract of DL Brodrick Bunkley
This move saved the Saints more cap space, as Bunkley went from $4.7M against the cap to $2.5M against the cap. This was a smart move for Bunkley, and while a lot of skeptics do not think he’s the guy, he will likely be the starting NT in the Saints 3-4 scheme. The move estimated the Saints to be under $2.9M over the Salary Cap.
3/8 – Saints tender RFA RB Chris Ivory
At the time it was announced, it was definitely a relief to see him come back. Ivory will be forever remembered for his power run against Atlanta in 2012. He would later be traded to the Jets during the draft, and the 4th Round compensation received was more than generous for him.
3/9 – Saints tender RFAs C Brian de la Puente & DE Junior Gallette
Gallette was a much needed player to keep on the defense, so much that he earned a 3 year deal. I look for big things from him in the upcoming season with Rob Ryan. Fear The Beard. As far as de la Puente, he was drawing a lot of outside interest, and he is one good season away from a large paycheck, very glad to have him back.
3/12 – Saints release LB Will Herring, restructure contracts of LB Jonathan Vilma & DE Will Smith
I alluded to this in my Saints Have Little Shock in Free Agency blog. However, it’s worth repeating that Vilma & Smith alone saved the Saints $11M, and put them under the Salary Cap by just over $6M. Herring was just a cap casualty.
3/13 – Saints tender RFA LS Justin Drescher
May be the most overlooked move of the year, however, Long Snappers rarely make huge impacts on the news front. Drescher is 25, and was locked up for the next 4 years. I’m sure the happiest among the Saints players from this move is Thomas Morstead.
3/15 – Saints sign CB Keenan Lewis to a 5-year contract
Catching this guy in his prime is nothing to overlook. Lewis lead the league in Pass Defenses with the Steelers in 2012, and was a highly coveted target in Free Agency. The fact that we were able to sign him was simply amazing, but he clearly starts, and whether that is officially opposite Jabari Greer is yet to be determined. I look for great things from the New Orleans native.
3/18 – Saints sign TE Benjamin Watson, re-sign WR/ST Courtney Roby, and LB Ramon Humber
Watson is a former First Round Pick, and most recently spent his time with the Cleveland Browns. He can easily compliment Jimmy Graham in the passing game, and with this tandem, they are both sure to give opposing defenses fits. Courtney Roby flies slightly under the radar in my opinion, but he is a great asset in the Special Teams game, and fills in as needed in the passing game. Humber, well….Humber Smash is all I can say, he is more a Special Teams player, but could see a more expanded role with Rob Ryan.
3/21 – Saints sign (re-sign) LB Will Herring to one-year contract
See 3/12, he comes back at a lesser price tag. Good move on both parts.
3/28 – Saints sign LB Victor Butler to a 2-year contract
Butler was a Rob Ryan understudy in Dallas, and though he may not have had the flashiest numbers (25 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 INT, 3 Passes Defended), he was a consistent starter, playing in all 16 games. He’s another one in entering the prime of his career. Sadly, we will not see that this season.