RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
WR Lance Moore: Moore had been nothing more than a spare part until producing back-to-back seven receptions games against Denver and San Francisco. Now head coach Sean Payton has said that Moore will most likely be Marques Colston's opposite receiver when Colston returns. This could be a case where Moore experiences the classic breakthrough season that results in a high tender by the Saints – perhaps a first-rounder – which could lead to a pay day of more than $2 million. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Two good games does not a big contract make.
RG Jahri Evans: If you look at the Saints' depth chart right now, there is no backup for the third-year pro. He's steady and capable and the Saints have given no indication that he's not a part of their future. Given how hard it is for teams to find reliable offensive linemen in free agency, expect the Saints to tender him and, perhaps, sign him to long-term contract.
OL Zach Streif: He's good depth, but not worth a tender, nor will he be courted in free agency. If the Saints want him back, they likely won't have to offer him much.
P Steve Weatherford: He's a solid player who gets good hang time and has a 43.5-yard average this year. But kickers are usually spare parts. They'll tender Weatherford with a late-round pick just to get something in return if a team chooses to court him. Otherwise, he'll get a one-year deal that might pay $1 million.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
TE Mark Campbell: Sean Payton likes the guy and he's done yeoman's work during Jeremy Shockey's injury. Still, he's in his 10th season and he'll cost any team close to $1 million to sign him to the league minimum. It'll be one of the Saints' more interesting offseason decisions.
LB Troy Evans: He's strictly a special teams guy. Very replaceable.
PK Martin Gramatica: His time ran out last week as the Saints released him and signed Taylor Mehlhaff.
WR Devery Henderson: He has enough speed and capability to draw some interest on the market (Tampa Bay met with Henderson last year, perhaps laying the groundwork to steal him away from the Saints, as they did with Jeff Faine in March). I think the Saints expected a lot more of Henderson by now and may choose to let him walk, if Moore and Robert Meachem continue to progress.
C/G Matt Lehr: He's valuable because he can play two offensive line positions and start in a pinch. Lehr sat on the open market for a while last offseason before the Saints signed him. If he departs, it will be because the Saints think they can do better, not because another team wants Lehr.
RB Aaron Stecker: His situation is intriguing, despite the fact that he's been hurt most of the season so far. If Deuce McAllister, for some reason, doesn't return next season, Stecker should feel safe signing with the Saints and making the team. If McAllister is back (and he's under contract, but between him and Reggie Bush it's going to cost the Saints about $20 million), Stecker might be better advised to look for a new home, as Pierre Thomas will be the backup of the future.
RT Jon Stinchcomb: He's not talented enough to break the bank, but he's been a three-year starter for Payton and he knows the offense. There will be some competition for him, especially if the tackle market is depressed during free agency. The Saints could slide Carl Nicks into his spot in 2009 if Stinchcomb gets a better deal. But the Saints would like to keep him.
MLB Jonathan Vilma: Yeah, that's right, the Saints gave up a fourth-round pick for a player in the final year of his deal. So what? They've got plenty of cap space, Vilma is playing great and there should be no doubt the Saints will get him signed to a long-term deal before free agency begins.