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Monday, May 3, 2010
Saints now loaded with DBs

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

In the end, the New Orleans Saints and Darren Sharper got things to work out exactly the way both sides wanted. It just took a long time.

Sharper
Sharper
The past few months for the Saints and the veteran safety have been nothing but posturing. Despite a flurry of recent talk about the 34-year-old free agent landing in Jacksonville or somewhere else, the Saints announced Monday that Sharper will return to New Orleans.

“We have said since the end of the season that we would love to have Darren back in a Saints uniform for 2010 and I’m glad we’ve been able to make that happen,” general manager Mickey Loomis said. “Darren was an integral part of our Super Bowl-winning team and we look forward to having him back.”

Sharper had nine interceptions last season and solidified a secondary that went from terrible to very good. But, this time around, Sharper’s signing isn’t the kind of act that should be viewed as solving everything. In most areas of the secondary, the Saints really have nothing that needs solving. This is insurance, almost an embarrassment of riches.

With starters Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter firmly entrenched at cornerback and Roman Harper at strong safety, Sharper’s return leaves a slight question about his role. While Sharper was hanging out in free agency, the Saints viewed moving cornerback Malcolm Jenkins to free safety as one alternative and letting veteran Usama Young step into a starting role as the other.

Those still could be options, but the Saints now have all sorts of flexibility in their secondary. They just drafted cornerback Patrick Robinson in the first round and they’ve got safety Chip Vaughn coming back from an injury that cost him his rookie season.

They’ve still got a quality veteran backup cornerback in Randall Gay. That leaves all sorts of possibilities for Jenkins, who I think is the most interesting guy in this whole mix. The Saints’ first-round pick last season, Jenkins spent his rookie year as a backup cornerback. He did some good things there, but he also has the tools to move to free safety.

But, with Sharper’s return, the Saints don’t have to make an immediate decision on Jenkins’ future. They can let things play out naturally in a secondary with loads of talent.