Where is the buzz for Darren Sharper?
There hasn’t been much said about safety Darren Sharper since the end of the season.
After winning a ring against the Colts in the Super Bowl, the safety quietly entered the free agent market, had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee — which is a pretty standard procedure for players in the offseason — and is still without a home for the 2010 season.
But where’s the buzz? This is a player who had nine picks for a championship team.
Sharper can still play at a Pro Bowl level — when he’s in the right system. And I really don’t see a better landing spot for him than back in New Orleans.
I talked at length about the situation to a very good Saints source in Indianapolis during the combine, and he agreed that as good as Sharper is at making plays on the football, the defensive scheme in New Orleans fits his game the best.
There is no question that Sharper can freelance when he’s playing that center field spot in any defense. But, under Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, he’s the ideal player to fit into the complicated schemes that require a veteran who not only understands offensive tendencies but also knows when to take the risks to jump routes.
Sharper played some of the best football of his career last season because he was able to use Williams’ game plans to fit his style of play. He isn’t a knockdown tackler in the middle of the field, and at this point in his career, will not be able to run with every receiver or play over the slot in certain situations. But with the amount of combination coverages in Williams' playbook and the amount of time Williams puts him between the hashes in the deep middle of the field in man pressure schemes, there are plays to be made.
By not resigning early in New Orleans, Sharper is trying to create some interest and build a market for his name. Can’t blame a player for that. But, who else in interested in the 34-year old safety?
Thursday, Frank Tadych of NFL.com floated some teams out there that would be a fit for Sharper. Besides the Saints, he listed the Jets, Redskins and Eagles as possible destinations. All of them make sense because they require a safety that has range and playmaking skills once the football is in the air — and they pressure as a defense.
As Tadych pointed out, Sharper will see more interest after the draft when safety-hungry teams don’t meet their needs over the weekend. The market could increase, and Sharper could see some offers come in.
If it comes down to a money decision, Sharper could take a higher bidder than the Saints. But when you look at his game from a football decision, going back to New Orleans is the only move that makes sense. And, if the Saints want to make another run at the Super Bowl, they need their safety back in the middle of the field.
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