It has been a relatively quiet offseason for the New Orleans Saints as they have made some necessary moves to improve their roster. The Saints also managed to sign all of their rookies, and news came in today that the team would be retaining veteran safety Roman Harper.
Harper was set to make $5.25 million this season but was on the cap for $7.1 million due to guaranteed money. Harper renegotiated his contract and will now be extended to the 2015 season with no guaranteed money beyond 2013. This season Harper will make $4 million guaranteed and the deal seems like it will mutually benefit both parties. However, there is a possibility that the Saints do not retain Harper beyond this season.
If the Saints do retain Harper past this season it will all be determined on his play. Harper is a hard-hitting safety that does not really excel in coverage and needs to do a better job of wrapping up when making tackles. Nonetheless, he will see some time at safety, but with Kenny Vaccaro in the mix Harper could see his playing time diminish.
One way I think Harper could see some playing time—while also making room for Vaccaro—is to play some outside linebacker for the Saints. If Harper added some weight to his 6-foot-1 200-pound frame he could absolutely play some linebacker in the Saints’ new 3-4 defensive scheme.
Harper likes to hit hard, and he would be fast enough to get around opposing teams’ offensive lines. The only question would be if he would be strong enough to get to the quarterback, but I think he can. Harper has racked up 17 sacks so far in his seven-year career, and having him line up on the defensive line would be something new to throw at opposing offenses.
Harper wisely renegotiated his contract for the good of the team, but I think he ultimately helped himself out too. Despite a horrendous season for the secondary last year I think Harper will be a key player in improving the overall defense this season.