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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Around the NFC West: Dealing with Saints

By Mike Sando

Unfortunate circumstances in New Orleans have helped NFC West teams get value for expendable defensive players.

It happened last summer when the Seattle Seahawks traded linebacker Barrett Ruud to the Saints for a conditional 2013 seventh-round choice. It happened again Monday when the San Francisco 49ers sent outside linebacker Parys Haralson to the Saints for a conditional 2014 pick in the same round.

The Saints wanted Ruud last summer because Jonathan Vilma was facing a suspension, Chris Chamberlain had suffered a torn ACL and David Hawthorne was coming off surgery. The Seahawks had signed Ruud as insurance at the position, but rookie Bobby Wagner had emerged as the clear starter, so Ruud probably wasn't going to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. The 2013 seventh-round pick Seattle got in return wound up being 220th overall. Seattle used that choice for guard Ryan Seymour, who faces a tough fight in earning a roster spot given the improved depth along Seattle's line.

Haralson appealed to the Saints more recently after the team lost starting outside linebacker Will Smith to a season-ending knee injury suffered against Houston over the weekend. Victor Butler is also lost for the season, while Martez Wilson and Junior Galette are unavailable in the short term. The 49ers' young depth at outside linebacker made the 29-year-old Haralson unlikely to earn a roster spot, particularly in light of the $1.3 million Haralson was scheduled to earn in 2013. The 49ers will reportedly get a 2014 seventh-round choice in return, conditional on Haralson earning a spot on the 53-man roster.

The relatively low compensation levels for Ruud and Haralson reflect the likelihood that neither player was going to earn a roster spot with his previous team. The Saints can feel good about plugging holes at low cost. The Seahawks and 49ers can feel good about getting something in return for players they weren't going to keep, anyway.