On the first day of free agency the New Orleans Saints did not make any moves, but they did see some players go. The biggest loss for the Saints was starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who signed a five-year deal with the Chicago Bears.
Bushrod’s deal is worth about $36 million with almost $18 million guaranteed. Furthermore, Bushrod will be reunited with former Saints’ offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Kromer is the new offensive line coach/offensive coordinator for the Bears and getting his left tackle back should provide some consistency to the Bears’ offensive line.
The Saints would have liked to have kept Bushrod, but felt that he was not worth $7 million a year and ultimately let him walk. The Saints are now facing a void at the left tackle position, but losing Bushrod should not affect the team too much.
Offensive tackle Charles Brown will likely become the starting left tackle for the Saints if the team cannot land another offensive tackle in free agency. Brown said that he would be ready to start at left tackle if called upon, but said he also expects the Saints to sign another offensive tackle.
The Saints could very well look for an offensive tackle in free agency, but they could look to the draft as well. The Saints should be fine without Bushrod and the team really could not afford to pay him that much money. Now the Saints’ coaching staff will be tasked with trying to solidify an offensive line that can protect Drew Brees. Brown may be the answer in the short term at left tackle but perhaps the Saints have something up their sleeves.
I would not be surprised if general manager Mickey Loomis pulls off a deal to bring in a great offensive tackle for less than what the Saints would have paid to keep Bushrod. Loomis is yet again showing why he is one of the best general managers in the NFL as he has quietly gotten the Saints about $5.4 million under the salary cap.
Bushrod going to the Bears was the biggest news for the Saints of the first day of free agency and while it seems like a huge loss now, I think the team can recover. Bushrod is a good left tackle, but he is not irreplaceable and at the end of the day that is why the Saints let him walk. Between the Saints management and coaching staff, I know the team will find a way to make up for the loss of Bushrod.