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Friday, February 27, 2009
Keeping Vilma a huge boost for Saints' defense

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

  Vilma

In the end, the Jonathan Vilma saga played out exactly as most of us expected. The linebacker re-signed with the New Orleans Saints on Friday.

It's just that the last day got a little interesting, with the division-rival Buccaneers taking a shot at luring the middle linebacker away. It didn't happen, though, and that gives the Saints a chance to rebuild their defense (once again) around the linebacker they traded for last year.

Part of that trade agreement with the Jets was why Vilma wasn't re-signed before free agency started. If he had, the Saints would have had to give up more compensation in draft picks.

Keeping Vilma probably means the Saints won't have a lot more room to sign free agents, although cornerback Ron Bartell is in for a visit Friday. But keeping Vilma, one of the few bright spots on last year's defense, is a good start.

The Saints are getting outside linebacker Dan Morgan back from retirement and also have veterans Scott Shanle and Scott Fujita. With Vilma that leaves the linebacker corps as the apparent strength of the defense and the Saints can work on the secondary and the interior of the defensive line to give new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams some more talent to work with.