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Does Curtis Lofton Signing Mean Saints Will Cut Jonathan Vilma?: Fan’s Opinion
On Saturday, the New Orleans Saints took a major step towards improving their defense for the 2012 season. The Saints signed former Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton to a five-year contract. Since it's a long-term deal, Lofton will not be the "interim" middle linebacker during Jonathan Vilma's impending suspension. Does the arrival of Curtis Lofton in New Orleans entail that current middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma is done as a Saint?
When the Saints won the Super Bowl, Jonathan Vilma was one of the key cogs in New Orleans' big play defense. Although he didn't have quite the impact of Darren Sharper, Vilma acted as the defensive leader on the field. One of my favorite memories from the 2009 season was Jonathan Vilma's big hit on fourth down to preserve a Saints win over the Falcons in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, what casual NFL fans know about Jonathan Vilma from that season is him allegedly offering up $10,000 to anyone who could take out Brett Favre in the NFC Championship. This has most Saints fans believing Vilma will miss extended time in 2012. As the defensive captain in New Orleans, Jonathan Vilma cannot claim he had no knowledge of the bounties.
Regardless of whether or not Jonathan Vilma has an impending suspension, Curtis Lofton is an upgrade for New Orleans in terms of production at this point in their careers. Since 2009, Lofton has amassed 291 solo tackles. During that time, Vilma has 195 solo tackles. Curtis Lofton is also four years younger. I know you can't put a price on leadership. But at some point, Lofton's production becomes more important.
Saints plan for 2012
As harsh as it may seem, the Saints answer to dealing with potentially over a dozen defensive suspensions may be to bring in different (and possibly better) players who won't be suspended. Like I said, most defensive positions in New Orleans could use an upgrade even if suspensions weren't looming. But why wouldn't Mickey Loomis want better players who can play 16 games?
Yes, the New Orleans Saints are showing more loyalty to Sean Payton than Jonathan Vilma. I even wrote an article hypothesizing that it may be better for the organization to cut ties with Payton and pursue Jon Gruden. However, I underestimated the relationship between Payton and Drew Brees. As long as Brees is the Saints QB, Payton is Teflon.
Now, show Drew Brees how much you really respect him and pay the man!
Patrick Michael lives in New Orleans and has always been a big fan of the New Orleans Saints. Patrick's favorite Saints season was 2009 when New Orleans won Super Bowl 44.
"Saints agree to deal with LB Lofton," yahoo.com
"Curtis Lofton," pro-football-reference.com
"Jonathan Vilma," pro-football-reference.com
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