Ralph Malbrough / Contributing Writer
The best part of the crazy free agency in 2011 is how excited I am for the preseason. Oh sure I know I'll probably only see all the new Saints players for like 10 minutes before my future auto mechanic is taking snaps and getting sacked.
Those 10 minutes will be glorious. Usually by August the Saints have finalized their entire roster moves and the excitement of the new free agent signings already passed in March. Not this year. Throw in the Dome renovations and I'm considering coming to town for the preseason opener. I can't believe I just said that.
The Saints by all appearances have wrapped up the eight-second like bull ride that is 2011 NFL Free agency. They resigned all major contributors except center Jonathan Goodwin, traded Reggie Bush and replaced him with a lightning fast lawn gnome Darren Sproles. They also added another giant defensive tackle in Aubrayo Franklin.
Here at the Forecast we love fat defense lineman because when they play well we can make jokes like, 'Oh look Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin are gorging at the all you can eat QB buffet. Aaron Rogers looks delicious!' And if they are bad well, 'Why did the Saints sign a bunch of fat guys? They could have signed any one of my friends or relatives if they wanted fat, slow and lazy and it wouldn't have cost as much.' The jokes write themselves and really besides watching the Saints win I'm all about the jokes.
Saints fans will love Sproles and if stock were available in his jersey sales I'd be a buyer. He's tiny, super fast, and will score probably six or seven touchdowns of 25-plus yards. Punt returns will not be a break to go grab a beer from the fridge anymore.
The Saints also didn't do a couple of things; they didn't do any major upgrade at linebacker and they didn't chase Roman Harper off. Harper fits exactly what the Saints need from the strong safety on defense and the possible replacements weren't any cheaper/better. Besides Harper with his gray hair looks 45 years old and as I get older I like to pretend I'm the same age as the players.
Ever since Sean Payton has been the coach fans have wanted the Saints to upgrade at linebacker or to put it more bluntly...chase Scott Shanle to Canada. All I can say is we are going on year six of Shanle so clearly the Saints don't think outside linebackers are worth huge investments. They just don't. The Saints drafted Martez Wilson in the 3rd round to play on the weakside and brought in Will Herring as depth.
The Saints have won 27 games the past two years and a Super Bowl with outside linebackers best described as 'Extraordinarily Adequate'. Mickey Loomis values outside linebackers like you value a ceiling fan. It's important in the summer but not as much as air-conditioning. As long as it runs no need to have the best.
The Saints have also decided Matt Tennant will be the starting center. Tennant was highly thought of in last year's draft and this seems to me the Saints trying to save money so they can resign Carl Nicks to a long term extension.
Free Agency has gone so fast and furious the Saints signed a bunch of guys I never heard of who might contribute quite a lot this year. In November Turk McBride, Fabian Washington, Paul Oliver, and Alex Barron all might be important names. Barron is the only one I remotely recognize because he allowed 400 sacks in St. Louis.
Don't act like you know all these names. The Saints roster is 90 deep and about 45 of them you've never heard of. Don't believe me? Answer this question, ' Who is a Saints receiver and who is a U.S. Senator?' Joseph Morgan or Johnny Isakson?
Don't you dare head to NFL.com.
Morgan is camp body receiver and Isakson is the U.S. Senator from Georgia.
As an Astros fan watching their GM Ed Wade sell off any valuable players they had left for a Groupon to a day spa I can honestly say the most under appreciated quality in life is competence. Mickey Loomis has it spades and the man navigated the craziest off season in NFL history almost perfectly and did the near impossible because he has me bouncing off the walls waiting for preseason football.
Ralph Malbrough is a Saints fan living in Houston. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, find him on facebook, or follow him on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/MilneMalbrough