The New Orleans Saints are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Danielle in New Orleans writes: What do you think the Saints are going to do with Darren Sharper?
Pat Yasinskas: They’re playing it smart and letting Sharper test the market. They want him back, but the fact is they’ve got a business to run and have to do it this way. Sharper is a 34-year-old safety. Obviously, he’s coming off a tremendous year. But how much longer can he continue playing like that and what’s his real value? I’m sure the Saints have a price tag in mind and Sharper is seeing what’s available. He wants to return to New Orleans and I suspect he’ll give the Saints a chance to match any offer he might get elsewhere. As long as the price is reasonable, I think the Saints will keep him.
Nick in Lubbock, Texas, writes: First of all great job predicting the Super Bowl; it seemed the media bias clouded everyone's judgment. Anyway, what do you think about the Saints drafting Taylor Mays and moving him to SS to pair with Malcolm Jenkins at FS? I'm not impressed by Roman Harper.
Pat Yasinskas: Hey, I was just lucky on the Super Bowl pick. If I could call them like that all the time, I’d be living in Las Vegas and wouldn’t need to write for a living. As far as the safety situation, your scenario makes sense and I wouldn’t rule it out. But I’m not as down on Harper as you are. I thought he had a very solid season last year. He’s a strong safety and the main job description there is to hit people. Harper does that. He had some problems earlier in his career when weaknesses around him left him in coverage too long. With good corners, the Saints no longer have to rely too much on Harper.
Chris in Austin, Texas, writes: Is it crazy to think that the Saints have possibly downgraded their defense since the Super Bowl? It's been apparent that they could use a run stuffing DT, a pass rushing DE, and an upgrade at OLB. They released Charles Grant, lost Scott Fujita to FA, and are allowing Darren Sharper to test the waters. With being limited in free agency because of the championship how are they going to replace these players and upgrade certain positions? Sure the draft can produce help as well as filling in the holes with players already on the roster but doesn’t that translate into going backwards instead of forward?
Pat Yasinskas: I see your points and respect your logic. But the NFL is cyclical and nothing stays the same for long. Fact is, Fujita had a nice season last year, but he is getting older. Grant didn’t have a nice season and he already was old -- for a defensive lineman. Even though Sharper still may return, he already is old. The Saints have some young guys like Malcolm Jenkins who need to step up. Although they can’t do much with true free agents, they can sign guys who have been cut elsewhere and there are a lot of them out there. And a need or two could be filled in the draft. Maybe the defense doesn’t look as good now as it did in January. But let’s wait to see how it looks in September.
Justin in Ponchatoula, La., writes: What position are Saints going to target in the first round of the draft?
Pat Yasinskas: With the Saints picking No. 32, it’s hard to say they’ll lock in on any certain position because so much depends on what happens with the teams ahead of them. But I think it’s fair to say the obvious needs are at defensive end, outside linebacker and maybe safety.