Biggs: Big decisions looming for Loomis, Saints

Just imagine where the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints would be without a labor standoff that is going to throw a wrench in the plans of a couple hundred would-be unrestricted free agents.

The change in service time needed to become unrestricted – six years as opposed to four – has snared a handful of Saints and made it easier for the team to lock up some of its own moving forward, or at least for one more season.

The Saints have 10 UFAs but only two of them are starters – safety Darren Sharper and linebacker Scott Fujita. There are 18 projected RFAs, however, and that group is going to force general manager Mickey Loomis to make a host of decisions as Mike Triplett of the New Orleans Times-Picayune pointed out.

That group includes offensive tackles Jammal Brown, Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief, guard Jahri Evans, running back Pierre Thomas, wide receiver Lance Moore, defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove and safety Roman Harper.

Loomis told Triplett that while the team is behind, for good reason, in its preparation for the draft and free agency, the situation the club faces being hindered in free agency by the new rules makes it somewhat easier to handle.

"We need to have a critical eye when we evaluate and not be blinded by the euphoria that goes along with winning a championship," Loomis said. "I think one thing we have to be careful about is when you have a successful season, sometimes you don't use a critical eye. You still have to be honest with yourself. You have to stay true to your philosophies and pay attention and be self-critical. We need to do that and pay attention to weaknesses we have and holes we have on our team."

Interestingly, Triplett suggested the Saints could consider dealing from strength and trading one of the RFA offensive tackles: Brown, Bushrod or Strief. That scenario would bring the Saints a combination of player(s), pick(s) or both and give Loomis some more flexibility. But trading away offensive tackles, when that is a strength, is always a dicey move. No one wants to give up depth at that position.

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