Now that we have come to terms that Curtis Lofton is... going... to... some different team, we may be able to feel better about this. Submitted for your commentary, this move will hinder the Saints, improve our pass defense, and is the most logical move considering our lack of cap space.
The Saints Seem to be Building for Now. Entering free agency with limit cap space and a franchised quarterback, the Saints signed big name players like Marques Colston, Curtis Lofton, Ben Grubbs and Broderick Bunkley. These players appeared to sign cap friendly contracts, with larger signing bonuses and smaller base salaries in their first two years.
This is a great way to be in cap hell in another two seasons without even signing their franchise quarterback. It also begs the question, "Why would you build for a season without your head coach?" The Saints are forced to make some moves to replace a number of losses without many draft picks, but they did not add depth with cheap players.
Pass Defense. Atlanta has consistently been at the bottom of the league in third down defense, in part because Curtis Lofton being a two down linebacker (per Mike Nolan). Atlanta would be better served by subbing out a thumper type linebacker in nickel formations instead of removing Stephen Nicholas, who is pretty solid in coverage. I am not sure how our nickel will look next year, whether Spoon is moved to the middle, Akeem Dent is subbed out, or Lofa Tatupu remains in the lineup.
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With Loomis saying Jonathan Vilma will return next year, the Saints will have a pretty terrible core of pass coverage players between these two linebackers and Roman Harper. I had originally expected Vilma to be cut, which makes it very interesting Loomis said Vilma will be back, as opposed to usual GM speak like, "We will evaluate the position." It is believed they may move Lofton to the outside but I am not sure why. Expect Atlanta to go pass heavy after New Orleans lost a starting corner, and the lack of pass coverage or pass rushing players.
Atlanta Made the Value Pick. Thomas Dimitroff had the option of either franchising Curtis Lofton or Brent Grimes. If the market showed anything, it is that corners are in high demand, costing about $10+ million a year, while run stuffing linebackers are receiving significantly less.
After Lofton was set free, it made sense why we dropped a 3rd round pick on a run stuffing linebacker last year, despite having a complete lack of picks. The drop off in impact may be negligible, with Dent having a little more speed than Lofton. Dent comes in without an injury history after having a Pro Bowl worthy season on special teams. Considering how little cap space Atlanta is working with, we had to see at least one quality player leave. Lofton seems to make the most sense as being the odd man out.
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