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A look at the New Orleans Saints free agent signings under Sean Payton

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2010

Alex Brown, Clint Ingram, Jimmy Wilkerson

2010 was an uncapped season in terms of the league’s salary cap. Although it was an uncapped season, teams could only sign free agents if they lost one of their own. Needless to say, the team focused their attention on keeping their own players.

Brown never flourished into anything memorable, and Ingram/Wilkerson were injured.

2011

Darren Sproles, Shaun Rogers, Aubrayo Franklin, Will Herring, Olin Kreutz, John Kasay, Korey Hall, John Gilmore, Turk McBride

Darren Sproles was considered the ‘cream of the crop’ in the free agent market upon leaving the San Diego Chargers. Having had prior history with Drew Brees, it figured to be a match made in heaven. Sproles made his presence felt immediately, as he accounted for 250 all-purpose yards in the season opening loss at Green Bay, scoring one touchdown off of a punt return.

As for the ugly, center Olin Kreutz would be the replacement to Jonathan Goodwin. Kreutz would only play in four of the first six games for the team, and promptly quit football. Kreutz said he ‘lost his passion for the game’, and was officially waived from the team on October 22nd.

2012

Curtis Lofton, Ben Grubbs, Chris Chamberlain, David Hawthorne, Brodrick Bunkley, Rafael Bush, Elbert Mack

On paper, this was one of the best free agent classes under Sean Payton. Despite the events of Bounty Gate, the Saints front office made tremendous strides to improve on defense. Sadly, we know the rest of the story. Steve Spagnuolo’s first and last year featured the league’s worst defense in NFL history.

Chris Chamberlain was a promising find for the New Orleans Saints, as he had just come off a career best season with the St. Louis Rams. Chamberlain signed a 3-year, $4.05M contract with the Saints on March 23, 2012. He would suffer a torn ACL in a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After rehab, the team was set for Chamberlain’s impact in 2013. We would never see it, as Chamberlain tore his ACL in training camp, and would be released on September 4, 2013 for ‘failure to disclose physical condition’.

As for David Hawthorne, Ben Grubbs, and Brodrick Bunkley, their immediate futures with the team are uncertain. Grubbs has positive notes in his corner after making the Pro Bowl in 2013, but Hawthorne and Bunkley have been quite underwhelming.

All Curtis Lofton has done in his three years with the black and gold is lead the team in tackles. Lofton has been the true Iron Man of the Saints defense.

2013

Keenan Lewis, Benjamin Watson, Victor Butler, Jim Leonhard

Keenan Lewis was exactly what the New Orleans Saints needed following the horrid defensive collapse of 2012. Lewis, a hometown native of the Westbank, chose the Saints as his suitor following a strong start with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite snubs from the Pro Bowl, he’s been given tremendous props from the likes of Deion Sanders. Had he not been in place, the Saints defense would not have made a massive turnaround in 2013, finishing as the league’s fourth best unit.

Victor Butler was a tremendous bust, as his torn ACL injury sidelined him for good, and we’d never see him suit up in black and gold. Since his release on August 25, 2014, Butler has bounced around three different ball clubs (Cardinals, Colts, Giants).

Ben Watson has been a perfect complement to Jimmy Graham, especially stepping in when Graham had injury issues. Watson, who just turned 34 in December, has played in 31 of 32 games for the Saints since coming over from the Cleveland Browns. With the team dealing with cap concerns, Watson’s $1.2 million salary could be an issue.

2014

Marcus Ball, Jairus Byrd, Jonathan Goodwin, Champ Bailey, Erik Lorig

If 2014 taught us anything, it’s that you can win in the offseason, but it meant ‘diddly poo’ for 2014 squad. As mentioned previously, the only players to ‘go the distance’ were Ball and Goody. Goody, for as much of an attractive, heartfelt signing he was, just simply was not the Goody we knew from before. We admired his grit and dedication, but overall it didn’t work.

With the New Orleans Saints staring at needs at cornerback, outside linebacker, and the offensive line, there’s no telling what exactly will be addressed in free agency versus the draft. We’ll find out the plan of attack over the next couple of weeks as the team is sure to have morethan a couple of player releases.

Aside Drew Brees, which free agent signing was your personal vote as ‘the best’ for the black and gold? Was Jason David truly ‘the worst’? Sound off below!

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