Kristian@wwl.com - Free agency is nearly four days old, and the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and New Orleans Saints have all made some moves to improve their teams. The Carolina Panthers are cash-strapped and appear to be sitting this one out. We’ll take a look at some of the moves from the rest of division and how that impacts the Saints.
Atlanta Falcons: The Dirty Birds have only added one player so far in the free agency period, but he’s a big one. Running Back Steven Jackson agreed to a three year deal with the Falcons. Jackson has eight straight 1,000 yard seasons. He’s 29 years old but doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Atlanta has done a good job of retaining some of their free agents. Safety William Moore, and Offensive Lineman Sam Baker have been re-signed by the Falcons.
The offensive firepower they currently have on their roster is downright scary. “To beat them you better be able to score points, it won’t be 13-10 when you play them. The Falcons are going to be really tough,” says WWL’s Bobby Hebert. “The addition of Steven Jackson scares the heck out of me.”
I agree with Bobby, Atlanta really helped themselves by keeping their own players plus adding a key piece to the puzzle and they also have tight end Tony Gonzalez coming back for one more bite of the apple.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Last year they were the big spenders in free agency, and it improved their team. So far they’ve landed another big acquisition and are poised to add another. Tampa grabbed Safety Dashon Goldson to help bolster the worst pass defense in the NFL. The Bucs gave Goldson a five year deal, averaging about $8 million per season. That’s a lot of cash, but Goldson is an absolute ball hawk, hauling in 9 interceptions in two seasons previously with San Francisco.
And, for the second year in a row, Tampa plucked a player from the Saints, signing linebacker Jonathan Casillas to a four year deal. Casillas is a fast linebacker the Saints liked, but were unwilling to pay $3 million a year.
Carolina Panthers: For a team that won four straight games down the stretch and with little cash, it looks as though the Panthers are going to sit and watch in free agency. The Panthers haven’t added any players to the mix, but might enter the fray after the market starts to settle.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints began the reconstruction of the NFL’s worst defense from a year ago by nabbing a cornerback. Keenan Lewis signed a five-year deal with the Saints worth $26 million, $10 million of that in guaranteed cash. Lewis wasn’t the best corner on the market, but he’s the one with the most value. At 26 years old, the Saints love his upside. Lewis was 2nd in the NFL last season in passes defensed.
The Saints now have a rather big hole to fill on the offensive line. Left Tackle Jermon Bushrod is off to Chicago to play for the Bears, inking a huge 5-year deal worth $36 million, with $17 million in guaranteed money.
The Black & Gold also lost backup QB Chase Daniel to the Chiefs. Daniel wanted a chance to start, and that wasn’t going to happen in New Orleans.