Thursday, March 3, 2011

Saints Make Big Moves As Lock-Out Looms; Shockey Joins Panthers

The New Orleans Saints had a busy few days, signing a new defensive tackle and inking two key components from the 2010 Super Bowl championship team to multi-year deals.

DT Shaun Rogers, an eleven year veteran, had been released by the Cleveland Browns and met with a few suitors before accepting a one-year deal with the Black and Gold. Though Rogers has 37.5 career sacks, his last two seasons have not been impressive, bagging only four sacks.

The Saints are gambling that a new scheme and environment will rekindle Rogers’s productivity.

Rogers reportedly passed up more money to come to New Orleans because of the Saints’ use of the 4-3 defensive alignment and the franchise’s prospects of success.

Rogers’s last two teams were the Detroit Lions and the Browns.

The Saints also moved to retain the services of two starters, signing running back Pierre Thomas and kicker Garrett Hartley to new contracts.

The Thomas signing was somewhat of a surprise for many observers due to his injury-plagued 2010 season and refusal to participate in the early part of last season’s training camp stemming from the team’s failure to offer him a long term deal to his liking.

Pending on the terms of the agreement the NFL owners reach with the players union, Thomas could have been either a restricted or unrestricted free agent in 2011.

Though less of a shock than Thomas’s deal, the Saints’ decision to hold on to Hartley is a strong vote of confidence in a kicker who had a frustrating 2010 season and at times rode the pine.

Thomas signed a four-year contract and Hartley signed a five-year contract.

The Thomas deal likely ends any chance of the Saints selecting Alabama running back Mark Ingram in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft.

The addition of Rogers brings a critical piece of the Saints’ defensive line. Defensive tackle was considered a position of need for the Saints going into the draft. With Rogers on the roster, the likelihood that the team will pick the best defensive end available in the first round has increased significantly.

Shockey Joins Cats

It looks like the Who Dat Nation has not seen the last of released tight end Jeremy Shockey, even if he will be sporting different colors the next time he trots out on the Superdome’s FieldTurf.

According to the Associated Press, the ex-Saint signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers. As a division rival, the Saints face the Cats twice in the regular season, playing one game in the Superdome and one game in Charlotte.

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