One of the top-rated defensive linemen in the NFL this offseason and the target of several teams, Aubrayo Franklin is a big-bodied, run-stuffing defensive tackle and now the newest New Orleans Saint.
Nine years out of Tennessee, Franklin, 6'1, 317, 30, spent four years as an unknown backup in Baltimore then four years with San Francisco playing in a lot of 3-4 formations. Perhaps seeking to continue his emergence as a powerful inside pass rusher, Franklin opted for a 4-3 defensive front.
With only a one-year contract, Franklin is obviously looking to make a big impact in 2011 as a 4-3 DT and cash in on his year in 2012. Media impressions of the Saints' signing have used terms like "shock", "swipe" and "steal," considering that New Orleans was not known to be a potential suitor until today.
Franklin is expected to challenge Shaun Rogers for a starting job next to Sedrick Ellis, but in reality all three will play in rotation in the suddenly titanic interior defensive line.
The Saints have lost fellow defensive linemen Remi Ayodele and Jimmy Wilkerson to free agency, part of last year's defensive tackle rotation. DT Anthony Hargrove remains an unrestricted free agent though he may be close to signing in Chicago.
The Saints were reportedly going after free agent DT Cullen Jenkins of the Packers, who signed with the Eagles.
Sought heavily by his own 49ers, he was reportedly visiting in San Francisco yesterday. The Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs were also hot on his trail.