If Twitter is anything close to what public opinion is, it was apparent Tuesday night, hours after NFL free agency began, that the Saints were losing that battle.
While Miami was busy backing a line of Brinks trucks to its Davie, Fla., facility, and while Atlanta was re-signing impact players, New Orleans was busy restructuring contracts and losing its starting left tackle.
These moves did not satiate the Who Dat Nation.
The Saints were never going to be major players in this free agent market. They were too far over the cap to begin the calendar year.
Re-signing defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma aren’t necessarily bad things. Both are veterans who have the ears or their younger teammates. Both can still provide help in certain game scenarios.
And losing backup quarterback Chase Daniel isn’t really a big problem. Daniel threw only nine passes in his four years in New Orleans. His decision to go to Kansas City likely only changes his address; it’s unlikely that he’ll end up starting for the Chiefs over Alex Smith.
The true loss Tuesday was left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who left for Chicago to be reunited with his former offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Bushrod’s institutional knowledge of how the Saints offense worked, along with the comfort level quarterback Drew Brees had with him, will hurt.
Yet, the Saints should be fine. They have historically not paid tackles during the Sean Payton era as the guards are the most important line position in his offense.
When few people thought Bushrod would be able to succeed in taking over for Jammal Brown, he did. At center, when Jeff Faine left, some wondered if Jonathan Goodwin would fill in well. He did. When Goodwin left, there was question is Brian de la Puente could take over. He has.
The Saints have done a good job filling in along the offensive line and there’s no reason to believe right now they won’t be able to continue this trend.
But free agency isn’t over. It’s only just begun and there are some quality players still on the market.
So sit back, relax and let’s wait to pass judgment for a little bit longer.