Wednesday, September 29, 2010

They Did WHAT?!

The New Orleans Saints brought back to the fold veteran kicker John Carney to shore up the team’s kicking game, though the move came at great cost.

In order to make room for the oldest active player in the league and the player who has scored the third most points in NFL history, the Black and Gold cut wide receiver Adrian Arrington.

Don’t get me wrong; the Saints needed to do something about 2009 hero/2010 57%er Garrett Hartley, who has missed three of his seven field goal attempts this season, most infamously botching what would have been the game winning field goal against NFC South division rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon.

The state of the Saints' kicking game right now is as questionable as it was after the front office’s unwise decision let go Carney after the 2006 season.

Carney reaffiliated with the Saints at the beginning of the 2009 season to sub for the suspended Hartley but ended up remaining on the active roster for a little while after Hartley was allowed to rejoin the team.

When the Saints decided to keep only one kicker on the roster after Week 12, the Saints retained Carney as a kicking consultant for the remainder of the season.

By bringing in Carney, the Saints showed confidence in Hartley. The other kicker the Saints worked out was ex-Houston Texan Kris Brown. If the Saints were interested in making a long-term move on the position, the team would have not signed a 46 year old and would have instead inked the younger player who is out of work because of a bad 2009 season.

The Carney signing is a quick-fix as he is expected to both mentor Hartley and light a fire under the struggling kicker. He is not a replacement, at least at this time.

As referenced in a previous column, big game heroes aren’t assured of job security with the Saints or for that matter any other team in the league. Sentimentalists might not like this reality, but “what can you do for me this week” trumps “what have you done for me last season” in the NFL.

Hopefully Hartley will resolve in the very near future whatever problems that have plagued his ability to perform at a high level.

While I was glad the team brought back the Notre Dame alumn (who’s been somewhat of a good luck charm for the Saints,) I don’t agree with their decision to cut Arrington to make room for Carney.

Though the Saints are loaded with receivers at the present time (though not necessarily with receivers who have consistently caught the ball- Lance Moore excepted!), Arrington was developing into the high-payoff player many fans felt he would become with some time and coaching.

Arrington had a strong pre-season and is a smart player. I’ll be shocked if he clears waivers, though if he does, the Saints should make a point of putting him back on the 53-roster ASAP. He won't be out on the street long.

The Saints risked losing a player with a big upside in the years to come in exchange for a kicker whose affiliation with the team might not make it past the season’s mid-point. Surely there were less attractive players on the roster to temporarily put out on the market than Arrington.

Hartley’s inconsistent kicking will have done more damage than simply costing the franchise a divisional game if the Saints were to lose Arrington to another team.

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