DT Anthony Hargrove is one of hundreds of players who would have had a shot at unrestricted free agency while deserving of a longer contract. Instead a restricted free agent, the Saints could offer him a qualifying offer and lock him into a one-year contract with limited access to other teams.
The Saints chose to tender Hargrove at a level that would require another team to surrender a third round pick to New Orleans if they signed him away.
Detroit showed strong interest in Hargrove, and had a formal meeting and interview with him. They never offered to sign Hargrove to an offer sheet, despite strong hints that they might try to steal him away.
On Monday, Hargrove signed his tender offer, a one-year $1.226 million deal.
Now, they won't have a shot to sign Hargrove to an offer sheet. If the Lions want him, they'll have to work out a trade with the Saints.
It isn't out of the realm of possibility. In fact, today Detroit completed a trade with Seattle for guard Rob Sims. The Lions sent a fifth round pick and a backup player to the Seahawks for Sims and a seventh round pick. Sims signed his restricted free agent tender offer on April 1, which carried a fourth round pick value.
It is possible, but not likely, however. The Saints know they have a good young player who, despite missing a season with a substance abuse program suspension, is in a good situation in his life and on his football team. Hargrove was a key member of the Saints' inside line rotation and collected five sacks appearing in all 19 of the Saints' games this season.
Hargrove's biggest game came on November 8 against the Panthers, when he helped snuff out two straight Panthers drives in the fourth quarter to put the final touch on the Saints' then-best 8-0 start. Hargrove recovered a Jake Delhomme fumble, forced by DE Will Smith, with less than three minutes left in the game and the Saints clinging to a three point lead.
The Saints were unable to run out the clock and punted, with rookie Thomas Morstead hanging a high kick that Courtney Roby downed inside the Panther 2 yard line. On the very next play, Hargrove whipped C Ryan Kalil, swatted the ball away from RB DeAngelo Williams, scooped the ball and stepped across the goal line for the trifecta touchdown. With 2:07 left, the Saints were up 30-20 and sealed the win minutes later.