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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Sharper should solidify Saints' secondary


Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

After a rather quiet start to free agency, the NFC South suddenly is making a lot of noise.

On the heels of Tampa Bay's signing of linebacker Angelo Crowell earlier Wednesday, ESPN's John Clayton now reports the New Orleans Saints have agreed to contract terms with veteran safety Darren Sharper.

This move could go a long way in solving the secondary woes New Orleans' defense has had the last two seasons. Sharper is 33, but hasn't shown any real signs he's slowing down. He immediately gives the Saints a quality starter at free safety and a big upgrade over Kevin Kaesviharn.

Sharper's arrival comes after the Saints signed free-agent cornerback Jabari Greer. That gives the Saints two established veterans, who will step right into the starting lineup. Sharper also should help make strong safety Roman Harper better. Harper's best at playing the run and in short coverage. Because of other problems in the secondary, Harper often had to help out in deep coverage last year and that's not his strength.

New coordinator Gregg Williams suddenly has some pretty good options in the secondary. Cornerback Tracy Porter is coming back after suffering an injury near the midpoint of his rookie year. Cornerbacks Randall Gay and Usama Young also will be in the mix.

Although Sharper's arrival would suggest the Saints might now go with a defensive lineman, linebacker or running back in the first round of the draft, don't rule out possibilities like defensive backs Malcolm Jenkins and Vontae Davis with the No. 14 picks. Recent history has shown you can never have enough quality defensive backs.

Besides, Sharper's bound to slow down at some point. It might not be a bad idea to draft someone like Jenkins, who could be a cornerback or a safety. The Saints could draft him and bring him along slowly for a year.