On Saturday, it was reported that the Saints signed RT Jon Stinchcomb (pictured, right) to a 2-year, $7 M contract. After his first three seasons were spent being injured, Jon stepped into the starting lineup along the, then considered shaky, Saints offensive line. However, Jon established himself to be one of the most reliable and steadfast members of an impressive and very youthful offensive line in 2006.
This is a big signing for the Saints, as Stinchcomb will be locked up through 2008 and can hopefully further establish himself as a stallwart of an up-and-coming offensive that features former first-rounde LT Jamal Brown. Keeping these two book-ends on the line are very important in keeping Drew Brees safe and sound in the pocket for years to come. Let's hope that the others on the front five continue to improve.
The Saints also tendered contracts to WR Terrance Copper (pictured, left) and DT Rodney Leisle (I didn't misspell that, that's actually his last name). Copper was fairly clutch for the Saints in 2006. He caught 23 balls for 385 yards and 3 TD. The Saints acquired him from the Cowboys before the beginning of the season. Overall, Terrance Copper was a nice addition to the Saints. He, more times than not, did his job. He caught when thrown to and did an adequate job of blocking for Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush.
Leisle was a fill-in for DT Hollis Thomas, who was suspended for four games for "violating the league's substance abuse policy." Whatever...look at Hollis (picturd, right). He's a blob...there's no way he was 'roiding. Anyhow, Rodney Leisle did an adequate job of filling in for Hollis, however Thomas's absence was sorely missed. Judge Leisle how you may, but he's a warm body and anything will do at defensive tackle for the Saints right now.
Speaking of Hollis Thomas, he was signed to a 4-year deal worth $12 M. At 33, 4 years sounds a bit long for a veteran at this age, but again...defensive tackle is a must in a Saints defense that must stop the run, and Hollis helped tremendously in this area.
DE Charles Grant was franchised by the Saints, meaning he'll make an average of the top five players at his position, which his $8.66 M for 2007. This implies that Charles Grant is among the top five players at defensive end in the NFL. I don't think that Grant is in the top five at his position, but keeping him is a good idea for the Saints, so the money will be well spent. Hopefully, Grant will be able to perform next year and warrant a long-term deal and prove his worth in the top five at defensive end.
Also, OLB Scott Shanle was signed to a 4-year deal worth an undisclosed amount. Shanle was a godsend at linebacker for the Saints, as he recorded 98 tackles at his position and is now locked up through 2010. In other smaller news, TE Billy Miller and DT Antwan Lake were resigned. Miller emerged as Drew Brees' favorite TE target at the end of the season, amassing 14 receptions over the last 4 or 5 games and was a frequent look of Drew during the playoffs. Lake was a capable back-up to Hollis Thomas and Brian Young at defensive tackle.
LB Terrence Melton and CB Curtis DeLoatch were not tendered contracts, and they both become unrestricted free agents. Melton was a capable and reliable special teamer, but he sometimes made idiotic mental errors and personal fouls that would cost the Saints dear yardage. DeLoatch was a special teamer and is best known for recovering the Steve Gleason blocked punt against Atlanta in the home-opener on Monday Night Football that caused the roof to fly of the Superdome. Neither will be missed.
UPDATE: The Sporting News is reporting that the Saints won't release CB Fred Thomas, who was routinely picked on and victimized by opposing teams' offenses and was always falling over his own two feet. If you ask me, running while not tripping qualifies you as a good football player, and since Freddy has yet to prove he can do this...well, you do the math. I personally feel that Thomas is a goner, but if he is retained it will be in a nickel back or dime back role. The Saints will address the cornerback position in free agency and the upcoming April NFL Draft.
Stay tuned....two posts in one day--it could be a record or something.