No. 5 Will Smith
Credit: Photo by Bill Feigh / The Associated Press
Watching the difference in Will Smith circa 2009 and Will Smith circa 2008 shows you just how much a healthy Smith means to the Saints. New Orleans finished with 35 sacks this season, seven more than in 2008, and 13 of them in 2009 came from Smith.
More importantly than the sacks, though, is that he led the team with 23 quarterback hits, which don’t necessarily take into account sacks but definitely represents quarterbacks under duress.
And with Charles Grant taking a break from football for the past few seasons, the Saints needed a good man off the edge. Smith gives the Saints that when he’s healthy. Not only does he get in the face of quarterbacks, he helps turn runs inside or extends the play towards the sideline.
He had his first two career interceptions this season – one in the regular season and one against Arizona in the playoffs. He’s 7th on the Saints’ all-time sack list with 49½, just behind La’Roi Glover’s 50 career sacks with New Orleans.
Smith agreed to a six-year, $70 million deal in 2008 and, though he struggled that year because of a sports hernia, he proved in 2009 that he was worth the money.