I understood the argument for and against Jermon Bushrod. That's why whether it was on this blog, TV, or radio I was always 50/50 on his status with the club.
I've always felt like you can do better than Bushrod, but you can also do worse.
The Saints strategy was the right one. Have a number in mind and let Bushrod test the market. If he comes back with a number too high, let him walk. If it's a figure that's doable, then bring him back.
The Chicago Bears were too rich for the Saints blood.
It happens. That's the nature of the beast.
But then I saw what Bushrod's new deal reportedly was and must say I was surprised. Not that they let him go, but how low the number was they were willing to pay.
The Bears gave Bushrod a reported 5 years/ $36 million with $17.5 million guaranteed.
Earlier this month I wrote that the Saints should use Will Beatty's contract with the Giants as the market-setter for Bushrod. Both players were comparable in their respective skill set. His deal 5 years/ 38.75 million with $19 million in guaranteed money. That deal averaged out to $7.75 million a year.
Bushrod got less. Less in average salary; less in guaranteed money. Which means the Saints offer was even less than that.
Yes, the Saints don't have much money to spend. But they can also manipulate the numbers to make it work under the cap. For example, Beatty's contract only counts $4million against the Giants salary cap in 2013.
If my math is accurate, Bushrod is now the tenth highest paid tackle in football. To me, that' a fair quantification of his skill set.
The Saints disagreed, at least at a $7million-a-year average.
Clearly, they believe they can find a player that can match Bushrod's on-field productivity with a much smaller price tag.
They've done it before. Bushrod himself was that younger, cheaper player when he replaced Jamaal Brown in 2009. He hadn't played a meaningful snap his entire career until that season. The Saints trusted him to protect Brees' blindside. That worked out fine. So much so that they traded Brown, a two-time Pro Bowler at the time.
Maybe the Saints feel like they have the next Bushrod in their pipeline. Maybe he's coming through the draft. Maybe Charles Brown will finally figure it out.
We shall see.