For years, the New Orleans Saints have been known as an offensive juggernaut. Now, the team is looking to contend for a Super Bowl by improving its defense.
The Saints have gotten weaker on offensive, having traded running back Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles, and releasing wide receiver Lance Moore. They applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jeremy Graham, and will likely have him for the 2014 season. Another team can sign the tight end, but must be willing to give up two first-round picks as compensation.
The Saints are doing the majority of their spending on defense, specifically in the secondary. The Saints were very good against the pass in 2013, ranking second by allowing 194 passing yards per game. As the club has lost a few players to free agency, though, it hasn’t been shy in paying for top notch defenders.
The Saints made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by signing Byrd. The safety signed a six-year deal worth $54 million. As a member of the Buffalo Bills, he has played in the last two Pro Bowls, intercepting nine passes in that time. Byrd was a second-round draft pick in 2009, and intercepted nine passes in his rookie season.
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After signing the best cornerback on the market, New Orleans could be looking to pair Byrd with a free agent cornerback. The Saints are reportedly interested in acquiring Browner, though the two sides have yet to meet. Browner is highly coveted, having already met with the New England Patriots and Washington Redskins. The 29-year-old will miss the first four games of the 2014, because of a suspension, and the violation forced him to miss the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl run.
Sproles isn’t the only former Saint that is joining the Eagles. Jenkins is headed to Philadelphia, after spending five seasons with New Orleans. According to the 26-year-old safety, the Saints never made him an offer. Jenkins recorded 68 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions in 2013.
Jabari Greer and Roman Harper
Both Greer and Harper will be playing for new teams in 2014, after being released by the Saints. Each player missed significant time last season, as Harper sat out seven games and Greer missed the final six with a torn ACL. They were staples in the Saints secondary, helping the team win its first Super Bowl in 2009. However, they’ll both be 32 years old by the end of next season and have seen a decrease in their numbers.