Depending on the date and the NFL insider that one listens to, it is reasonable to expect that the Player’s Association and NFL Owners will reach a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement within the next two weeks, thus ending the lockout and allowing regular football activities to begin shortly thereafter.
Immediately following the lifting of the lockout will begin free agency. Many teams will likely scramble to get the best free agents and undrafted free agents signed, it should not be a frenzy since the front office personnel of every team has had the entire offseason to evaluate undrafted free agents, the team’s own free agents, restricted free agents that will become free agents under the new deal and other available players.
Coming into the offseason, the New Orleans Saints had two big holes on their team: defensive line and running back. Both of these positions were handled during the draft, as the team took defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round, running back Mark Ingram in the first, and defensive end Greg Romeus in the seventh. Before the lockout began, the team also signed defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. These moves bolstered the team’s apparent weaknesses, and fans shouldn’t expect too many more moves for free agents once the lockout is over.
What they should expect is the team to move quickly to sign some of its 26 unrestricted free agents that will become unrestricted free agents under the new deal. Look for offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod to be the first one signed, as the team lacks quality depth at the offensive tackle position. After he is (hopefully) resigned, look for the team to try to ink wide receiver Lance Moore and safety Roman Harper to long-term deals. Moore has shown frustration at the lack of a long-term deal this offseason, but Harper said he will likely remain a Saint.
There are lots of other restricted free agents that will become unrestricted, and it’s unclear, besides tight end David Thomas, which ones the Saints will place the highest priority on.
However, one this is for sure. The Saints won’t need to a lot of outside help once the lockout ends.