With the season now in the rearview mirror – though some would say not far enough behind with wounds still open – we believe at WWLTV.com it’s time to hit on our yearly “roster check,” our assessment of who should be or should not be with the club come training camp in July.
We don’t think this will help close the wound that the playoff game opened. It might, in fact, open it more and for that we apologize.
For the next few work days, we’ll go position group by position group (secondary, linebackers, defensive line, offensive line and skill players) and give our opinions on the players and situations.
Ends: Will Smith, Jeff Charleston, Junior Galette, Cameron Jordan, Turk McBride
Linemen: Aubrayo Franklin, Shaun Rogers, Sedrick Ellis, Tom Johnson
Charleston: Well, it’s been fun. Wait, should of held that one for someone else. Charleston always seemed to be a Gregg Williams-type player. Not super talented but played his rear end off and, occasionally, came through with a big play. But he’s out of contract and, though not expensive, we wonder if he’s a Spagnuolo guy, Spags being the Saints new defensive coordinator. Spagnuolo likes tall, quick, athletic pass rushers. That’s not exactly Charleston. We see him on the outside looking in next season.
Galette: Now this is a guy that Spags could like. Galette, in a somewhat limited time, was third on the team in sacks with 4½ and is a Saints message-board favorite. There’s a reason for that. In his second year, he began to make huge strides by the middle of the year. He’s 6-foot-2, 258 pounds, athletic and plays with what coaches term a high motor. Galette will likely be back in 2012.
Jordan: Not sure we have to write all that much for Jordan. He was the team’s first-round pick in 2011 and started 15 of 16 games as a rookie. He’s not great as a pass rusher but the Saints’ run-stopping defense improved this past season partly because of him. He finished with 59 tackles and a sack to go with one fumble recovery. He had seven solo tackles in the playoff loss to San Francisco. He’s in the Saints’ plans for years to come.
McBride: He’s an interesting case. He shot through the opening gate quickly, getting nine tackles and two sacks in the opening six games of the season. But an ankle injury slowed him down for the rest of the season and he was never the same. He signed a one-year contract before 2011. If the Saints think he can fully recover from the high-ankle sprain, they might see him as a contributor in 2012. We think he signs a slightly less-expensive one-year contract and returns.
Smith: Here’s a tricky one. Smith is set to cost the Saints nearly $10.2 against the cap and that number will do nothing but go up the next three years. However, the Saints could redo his contract, spreading the money out in any number of ways. Cutting him doesn’t make much sense; there are few marquee names on the free agent market and the Saints are short on talented, experienced defensive ends. New Orleans likely won’t even have the money to go after big names. We see him back, but with a re-negotiated contract.
Franklin: When the Saints signed him to a one-year contract away from the San Francisco 49ers this past offseason, the move looked like a coup. He was highly regarded and believed to be one of the top run-stoppers in the league. But he never really stood out in 2011. He finished with only 31 tackles and no sacks. Franklin will be 32 this coming fall. We suspect he may be willing to re-up for another one-year contract.
Rogers: Shaun Rogers signed prior to the lockout and was an experiment. In our eyes, it was a failed one. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound plug in the middle of the defensive line never really looked at home with the Saints. His main contribution came in the fourth-and-one stop at Atlanta when he created a new line of scrimmage, helping to stuff the play. With a new defensive coordinator coming in who likes tall, athletic linemen, Rogers will likely not be back in 2012.
Ellis: There’s one reason to think Sedrick Ellis is worth bringing back. Two words – contract year. Ellis, a former first-round pick, hasn’t impressed of late. He finished with 55 tackles, including a ½ of a sack and four passes defensed. But he hasn’t proven to be the elusive, game-changing defensive tackle like, say, a Vince Wilfork. Ellis will be back for a fifth season in the black and gold.
Johnson: Our pick for surprise out of training camp, Johnson made the roster despite missing much of the preseason with an ankle injury. When he returned in the third game, he didn’t seem to have the same drive from the inside to wreak havoc. Johnson isn’t costing the Saints a lot of money and they might have seen enough to keep him around. At least for training camp, he’s around.
Greg Romeus: The Saints took a flyer on Romeus with the 226th overall pick in the 2011 draft. The University of Pittsburgh defensive end had surgery at the end of his senior season and was never expected to play or contribute this past season. In theory, he’s the type of guy Steve Spagnuolo is looking for. He’s 6-5, 267-pounds and athletic. Just for comparison sake, he has the same size as Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Romeus will be with the Saints.