When Saints fans see linebacker Scott Fujita in the Superdome this season, he’ll be wearing a brown uniform. Literally.
The Black and Gold faithful lost a fan-favorite on Sunday when Fujita joined the Cleveland Browns. Though terms of the deal were not released, one has to assume it was a relatively lucrative multi-year contract as Fujita shouldn’t expect to be winning any new hand jewelry with his new team.
According to USA Today, Fujita made $3,005,70 in salary and bonuses in 2009.
Fujita was an unrestricted free agent the Saints organization allowed to test the open free agent waters though the linebacker had publicly expressed an interest in remaining in New Orleans.
Saints fans, doubtlessly sorry to see him go, should hope that he inked a big deal with the Browns considering the UFA shackles imposed on them and the other three teams to play in this past season’s conference championship games.
Under the uncapped season rules, the Saints can only sign an unrestricted free agent after losing one from their team. And then the organization is limited to paying an UFA no more than the amount of the lost UFA’s first-year contract.
With rebuilding the Saints’ defensive front-seven a priority going into this year’s draft and free agency period, Fujita’s departure appeared probable the moment the team didn’t offer him a contract. The organization had no intention in investing big money in a soon to be 31 year old linebacker who has had declining production.
Fujita has missed seven games over the past two seasons and had a single sack. In contrast to his first two years with the Saints, Fujita missed only one game and made a combined 6.5 sacks.
That said, the fans always cheered for Fujita like he was a superstar despite pedestrian stats.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Fujita follows fellow Saints alumnus Heath Shuler into politics after the self-professed bleeding-heart liberal hangs up his cleats.
Fujita graduated from Cal-Berkeley with a bachelor’s in political science and earned a master’s in education and has been a vocal advocate for gay marriage and legalized abortion.
The Saints are slated to play the Browns in the Superdome in the 2010 regular season, though the date has not been released.