The New Orleans Saints, after signing Jairus Byrd, continued to stay busy with their roster shake up. Some moves were especially emotional, like the releasing of Lance Moore and the trading of Darren Sproles. However, two under the radar transactions may be some of the more important roster moves.
The Saints managed to resign two of their own in offensive tackle Zach Strief and running back Pierre Thomas. Both players have been mainstays for the Saints, and though the Saints have been cutting bait with some of their more tenured players, bringing Thomas and Strief back were the correct moves.
Zach Strief tends to be the target of fans’ irate bellowing towards the offensive line. However, people’s grievances towards Strief, and really the offensive line as a whole, are a tad bit misguided. Strief, according to Pro Football Focus, was the top rated right tackle in 2013. He is one of the better pass protectors in the league, though when he does slip up it looks very poor to TV watchers. However, according to PFF, he isn’t as great when it comes to run blocking, but he is still very adequate.
Speaking of the running game, the Thomas signing was very interesting to me. At first, I didn’t like the transaction. I felt that it was time to make way for the younger legs of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. However, after some thought, Thomas brings valuable intangibles. Though Ingram and Robinson look to be the future of the Saints’ running game, Thomas’ leadership and experience will be cherished for a relatively inexperienced group.
Also, though the young guns showed some promise toward the end of the season, neither have proven that they can stay healthy and productive throughout the course of an entire regular season; Thomas has. In addition, the Saints proved in 2011, after being upset by the Seahawks, that running back depth isn’t something that should be taken for granted.
All in all, this offseason for the Saints has been eventful. However, there are cases where a team will make plenty of glamour moves, but don’t compliment it with “boring” moves laced with substance. The Saints have managed, so far, to pair every exciting signing, like Byrd, with a good substance signing like Strief. This will allow the Saints to, once again, be in position to contend for a Super Bowl.