The New Orleans Saints made a huge acquisition last night, literally
The addition of 340 pound defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, whom they signed to a one-year contract worth over $4 million, was a great way to start the off-season in ‘Nawlins.
This move, which has the potential to pay dividends by the time the 2011 season is in the books, seems to have gotten overlook by all of the hoopla we like to call the NFL draft.
Rogers, turning 32 in less than two weeks, is the opposite of taking a younger approach and improving via the draft, but it is a quick fix to a weakness in New Orleans. The running game--both the lack of production on the offensive side due to injuries, and the inability to stop it on defense--was the Saints' achilles heel in 2010. Excluding the turnovers of course, but that's a different story.
Lucky for New Orleans, its pass defense bailed the rest of the team out of tight situations, allowing the fourth-least passing yards per game, and just 13 touchdowns through the air all season (least amount in NFL).
If the Saints can bring back its 2010 defense, plus add a run-stopper with the size and ability of a healthy Shaun Rogers, just think of the possibilities for New Orleans. Of course an aging Darren Sharper isn't ideal for the pass defense, but if he can return to full health in 2011 there's no stopping this defense.
Rogers was the key factor in the run game for 10 seasons while playing in Detroit and Cleveland. The three-time Pro Bowler has recorded 37.5 sacks in 124 starts at tackle, meaning he's no slouch when it comes to bringing the quarterback to the ground, either.
Playing nose tackle for Cleveland’s 3-4 defensive scheme for the last three seasons, and defensive tackle in Detroit's 4-3 scheme for the seven seasons prior to that, Rogers has been well-prepared to play both NT and DT on the defensive line. He will likely be playing the latter of the two in Gregg Williams' 4-3 scheme with the Saints.
Recording 60 tackles as a tackle is unheard of in today's game, and Rogers did that not once but twice with Detroit and Cleveland. Not even Albert Haynesworth and Vince Wilfork came close to matching that feat in their prime as an interior lineman.
The one thing that scares me a bit with the big guy, is the fact that he started just one game in 2010, and missed five additional games in 2009. If Rogers can return to his 2008 form, Sean Payton will be one happy man. But whether he’s healthy in 2011 or not, Rogers is a low-risk, high-reward scenario and any team looking to improve on run stopping would love to have him in uniform.
Rogers’ former head coach, Romeo Crennel (in Cleveland), tried to add him to his defense in Kansas City, but the Chiefs failed to do so. To tell you the truth, I think it's a great thing that not only did Kansas City miss out on adding him, but just the fact that he's finally with a true contender.
No more cellar-dwelling for Rogers, meaning he should finally get a little more recognition for what he has done throughout his career in the league. And, of course that also means he will know what it feels like to actually win games while with New Orleans.
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