I see a lot of Saints fans on twitter freaking out as their pie in the sky hopes of landing a big ticket free agent are quickly evaporating. A lot of money is being thrown out and reported as the Mario Williams, Janoris Jenkins and Kelechi Osemele’s of the world are all finding new homes before the free agency window officially even starts at 4pm eastern today. Yes, the Saints did land Drew Brees in free agency and yes, it’s probably the greatest free agency pick up in NFL history. But that was 2006, and there’s been a lot of busts since then. Let’s consider how things have gone. I’ve broken it down into 4 categories for you below. The first is clear busts, the second is heavy investments that turned out ok, the third is heavy investments that turned out well, and the last is low investments that turned out well.
Busts (21): Dan Morgan, Kevin Kaesviharn, Brian Simmons, Chris Chamberlain, Aaron Glenn, Champ Bailey, Jairus Byrd, Anthony Waters, Victor Butler, Alex Brown, Turk McBride, Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Ball, Erik Lorig, Olindo Mare, Anthony Spencer, C. J. Spiller, Brandon Browner, Olin Kreutz, Dhani Jones, Jason David.
Heavy Investments that turned out ok (5): Ben Grubbs, David Hawthorne, Brodick Bunkley, Will Herring, Bobby McCray
Heavy Investments that turned out well (5): Keenan Lewis, Jabari Greer, Curtis Lofton, Benjamin Watson, Darren Sproles
Low Investments that turned out well (12): Anthony Hargrove, Willie Snead, Darren Sharper, David Patten, Brian de la Puente, Delvin Breaux, Tim Hightower, Kevin Williams, Rafael Bush, Luke McCown, Shayne Graham, Garrett Hartley.
I didn’t list every single free agent the Saints have signed since 2007, but this is most of them with any relevance. I left out random guys like Pierson Prioleau, for example, that don’t carry much significance in impact or investment. The Saints have spent a decent chunk of change on the 31 players I’ve listed above (excluding the 4th category) and 68% of them have been busts, 16% have been ok, and 16% were success stories. That’s if you count Curtis Lofton as a success story, which I think some Saints fans would debate.
So I’ve listed 10 players that were heavy investments since 2007 that have either been “ok” or “good”. Then, I’ve got 12 players that are listed as good for low investments. Thus more than the two previous categories combined. This is a combination of difference markers and contributors, including Breaux, Sharper, Snead and Hargrove.
The point I’m trying to make? Sign a bunch of low investment guys like this and you’ll get much bigger returns than the 16% return rate on a big ticket free agent being “very good”. It’s not time to panic, be glad the Saints are learning from their mistakes and avoiding the temptation to throw stupid money at guys unlikely to turn the franchise around. Building a team needs to happen through the draft and finding gems in the right places.