February 24, 2010

Saints begin to corralle RFAs; more notes

Here are the various tenders that can be offered to a restricted free agent, of which the Saints have 18:
  • Right of First Refusal
  • Right of First Refusal + Pick in player’s original draft round
  • Right of First Refusal + Second-Round Draft Pick
  • Right of First Refusal + First-Round Draft Pick
  • Right of First Refusal + First- AND Third-Round Draft Picks
The dollar amounts of the tenders, outlined here, are based on whether the player has three, four, or five years of veterancy entering the uncapped year. (In a normal offseason, that which may forever be gone, players were restricted free agents with three years and unrestricted free agents with four or more years of veterancy.) They vary from $1.1 million to $3.2 million in a guaranteed, one-year contract.

This is the real damage of the uncapped season, that players like LT Jammal Brown will be given a one-year contract worth just over $3 million instead of a multi-year contract with $10+ million in guaranteed money.

The Saints began the process of tendering their free agents with the first two reported today: a tender offer carrying a second round pick for versatile T Zach Strief (the same offer he received last year) and an original draft round tender for CB/FS Usama Young (worth a third round pick).

Strief has started only on spot duty through his career in New Orleans, but was never more valuable in Super Bowl XLIV, when he played an innovative roaming third tackle, often in spread formation, sometimes even going in motion. The massive Strief has filled in at both right and left tackle and is a valuable utilityman on a deep Saints offensive line. Strief filled in a left tackle at times this past season, especially when Jermon Bushrod faltered.

Young is a tall, speedy defensive back who was ostensibly moved to free safety when Gregg Williams arrived. But Young played both safety and cornerback this season, especially when the Saints were ravaged by injuries at cornerback. Young lined up at cornerback in the Super Bowl, when Payton Manning completed his only touchdown pass of the game to Pierre Garcon, who beat Young's press to the back of the end zone. Young is still a young, high-character player who was also featured in an NFL-shot Super Bowl XLIII commercial that was voted a fan favorite.

Around the league:

K Olindo Mare, once the highly-regarded Saints replacement for John Carney who didn't last a season with struggles in the Superdome, has bounced around the league. He was verbally blasted by the Seahawks' former coach Jim Mora after a loss to Chicago in which Mare missed two field goals. He's already recovered enough with Seattle's new administration to be retained with the franchise tag, with a price of $2.814 million. The Saints' spectacular second-year kicker Garrett Hartley made $385,000 in 2009.

Former Saints WR David Patten has signed with the Patriots. It will be the second tour of duty with the Patriots for Patten, 35, having played there for four years prior to joining the Saints in 2005.

Since the Super Bowl, the Saints have begun to fill their offseason roster with street free agents. There are a host of familiar names on the list, many of which have already been to one training camp with the Saints (*), ordered from most recent:

FB Zak Keasey
*G Tim Duckworth
*DT Earl Heyman
CB Glenn Sharpe
OL NaShan Goddard
*CB Greg Fassitt
TE Tyler Lorenzen
*T Jermey Parnell

The Saints also waived WR D'Juan Woods.

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