The New Orleans Saints front office, after spending over a month focusing almost entirely on retaining players not named Darren Sharper, has finally made a noteworthy addition to the roster with the addition of former Chicago Bears defensive end Alex Brown.
The Bears released Brown so his signing with the Saints would not preclude them from signing an unrestricted free agent under the “Rule of Four”.
According to the Times Picayune, the deal was for two years.
Brown has played in every game since 2002 and his addition will help fill the gap left by the Saints release of defensive end Charles End, who wrestled with injuries, off-field controversy and inconsistent performance after signing a lucrative contract extension in 2007. Brown had six sacks and 36 tackles in 2009.
In addition to Brown, the Saints have three other defensive ends on contract: Will Smith, Jeff Charleston and Bobby McCray.
Smith, the starting right end, had a standout year in 2009, finishing the regular season with a career best 13 sacks though could possibly face a suspension in 2010 pending the resolution of the StarCaps matter that has dangled over the heads of a few players that had tested positive for the league-banned diuretic.
Brown, who like Smith plays on the right side, has stated his willingness to shift to the now vacant left side.
In what could result in another possible addition to the team’s defensive line, the Saints will host former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson. Wilkerson played in 15 games in 2009, racking up 29 tackles and 6 sacks though is coming off surgery for a torn ACL he suffered against the Saints in the second to last game of the regular season.
Beyond the issue with his injury, Wilkerson presents another concern for the Saints front office.
As Williams is an unrestricted free agent, the Saints would be limited to offering him no more money in his first year than what ex-Saints linebacker Scott Fujita received from the Cleveland Browns. Also, if the Saints signed Williams they would not be able to sign another UFA until another one of their UFAs signs with another team.
With the NFL Draft approaching next week, the acquisition of a second new defensive end could give the Saints organization freedom to pursue a desired player over simply going with the best player available at a position that needs to be addressed.