Are the New Orleans Saints failing to make the grade in free agency?
By John Hendrix
Around the NFL Writer Chris Wesseling recently handed out free agency grades for the NFC, and you won’t particularly care for his assessment of the New Orleans Saints.
Here’s what the column had to say about the black and gold’s relatively quiet start to the new league year:
"New Orleans SaintsHow are the salary-cap strapped Saints going to fix a defense that earned the worst grade ever recorded by the metrics site Football Outsiders in 2015? To this point, linebacker James Laurinaitis — cut by the Rams last month after forcing just one fumble in seven years — is the only noteworthy addition.We were surprised to see Coby Fleener, one of the softest tight ends in the league, land $36 million over five years in New Orleans while the Saints watched Ben Watson walk out the door on a much cheaper contract in Baltimore. Grade: D+"
This isn’t the first or last time that we’ve heard about the Coby Fleener ‘soft’ label, and one local New Orleans Saints reporter even made it a point to ask the newly acquired tight end about the rumblings.
“I think it is easy to say that sitting at a desk typing into a computer. Honestly, I didn’t know that until you said that. If you listen to what other people say about you, it is going to be an emotional roller coaster,” Fleener said in his media interview on March 11.
He added, “One day you’re amazing and then the next day, you’re the worst. Personally, I try to keep it on an even keel. The best way to do that is to ignore the people that are telling you that you’re the best and ignore the people that are telling you that you’re the worst.”
One thing that Wesseling fails to mention is the age difference between Fleener and Watson, and also that Fleener’s deal is extremely cap friendly for the first year.
The New Orleans Saints have also brought in veteran linebackers Nathan Stupar, James Laurinaitis, and kicker Josh Scobee. We also cannot forget about CFL prospect Erik Harris, who is said to open up as a safety in Dennis Allen’s defense. However, the team has primarily been focused on keeping their own. I have a strong feeling that they aren’t done either.
Next: 2016 New Orleans Saints Free Agency and Player Tracker
Just remember that winning the offseason is meaningless, especially for the Saints. Expect a heavy and very strategic focus on the 2016 NFL Draft, which has a lot to offer in terms of talent that could insert themselves to make an impact from the very start.