Will the Saints end up overpaying for Sharper?

Last night, while appearing on the NFL Network, Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported on the future of Saints free safety Darren Sharper.

And, according to Wyche, New Orleans plans to franchise its defensive playmaker.

I am surprised if the report holds true, because as much as I like Sharper for his ability to drive on the football and make plays for the Super Bowl champs in Gregg Williams’ defense down in New Orleans, the Saints are overpaying here.

By franchising Sharper, the Saints are essentially signing him to a one-year deal—a deal that carries a hefty price tag for their free safety at $6.45 million. That’s a big jump from the one-year, $1.7 million dollar deal that Sharper signed last offseason.

The NFP’s Brad Biggs points out that the Saints could benefit from this move, due to the uncertainty of paying out guaranteed cash for the 2011 season—which may not even take place if a lockout occurs.

Last week, I wrote about Sharper's market value and how applying the franchise tag was at the bottom of my list of options to keep him around. The market for him wouldn’t have been big, and I honestly can’t imagine a scenario where Sharper would jump ship. Yes, he could have mortgaged some cash against the Saints to create a bigger market for himself, but the bottom line is that the Saints might have been able to get Sharper back for much less than $6.45 million guaranteed.

However, from a player’s aspect and as a former teammate of Sharper, I give him credit if he does end up officially being tagged by the club. Here is a guy that no one wanted last offseason after his time in Minnesota, yet he went out and made enough plays, won a ring and is now basking in the rewards.

Not a bad season, and not a bad deal for a 34-year-old safety.

But, as we always say, the guys who get paid are the ones who make the plays, who show up on the highlights and who see their name at the top of the charts when it comes to interceptions.

Make no mistake about it, Williams and that New Orleans defense need Sharper in the middle of the field during the 2010 season if they are going to repeat as NFC South champions and make another title run. But they could have let Sharper test the market and made a good—but not great—offer sometime in March and received the same results.

Is Sharper now overpaid? Probably. But then again, it is tough to put a price on a guy who makes plays.

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