Top 10 Best free agents signed by the Saints:
10. Quinn Early
9. Wesley Walls
5. La’Roi Glover
If I had a list of my all-time favorite Saints, La’Roi Glover would be near the top of the list. A member of the NFL’s all 2000 team, Glover was a six time pro bowler, four time all pro, NFL defensive player of the year as well as the NFL Alumni defensive linemen of the year in 2000.
And the Saints got him for $100.00
The Oakland Raiders drafted the defensive tackle out of San Diego State in the 5th round of the 1996 draft. Glover was undersized, at 6’ 2” and 290 lbs, so he rarely played his rookie season. Therefore, they assigned him to the Barcelona Dragons of NFL Europe to play in the spring of 1997. Glover did well, racking up 6.5 sacks and 36 tackles, while pacing the Dragons to a World Bowl championship.
But that summer during the Raiders training camp, Oakland cut him, and the Saints scooped him off the waiver wire. He played as a back-up/rotational player, eventually starting two games in Ditka’s inaugural season, racking up 6.5 sacks, a forced and recovered fumble, and 24 tackles.
In 1998, Glover started 15 games, getting 10 sacks, 59 tackles, 3 forced fumbles and an interception. The following season, he got 8.5 sacks, 46 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Not bad for an undersized defensive tackle facing double teams as teams began to take notice of his production.
Glover’s greatest asset was his explosive first step, which allowed him to get under the pads of an offensive lineman before he could get out of his stance. Glover was also quite strong, and used his hands very well to get past offensive guards and centers who not only were taller than he, but also outweighed him.
However, when Jim Haslett and Randy Mueller came in and began to look at the tape, they noticed that Glover was practically unblockable when matched up one on one, but teams could handle him with double teams. Their objective: get La’Roi Glover help.
In February, the San Diego Chargers made a startling announcement: after slapping the franchise tag on the mammoth defensive tackle Norman Hand, they pulled it, making him an unrestricted free agent. A few days later, the Saints signed “The Big Wiggle” to a 5 year, $20 million deal.
In April, the Saints drafted Darren Howard in the 2nd round, and the defensive line make over was complete.
The Hand signing paid dividends immediately. With Hand’s massive frame eating up the double teams, the 2000 Saints set a team record with 66 sacks. Glover led the way, tying Pat Swilling’s team record of 17 sacks –an even more impressive statistic, because Glover did this as a defensive tackle, as opposed to an outside pass rushing linebacker.
Glover also forced three fumbles, a fumble recovery and 53 tackles. In week 2 against the Chargers, Glover sacked Ryan Leaf twice, turning a 2nd and short into a 4th and 22.
Glover was the face of the Saints defense throughout that magical 2000 season, featured in ABC’s playoff coverage for the Wild Card game vs the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. Glover called the Superdome, “Thunderdome” repeating the famous line, “Two men enter. One man leaves” from the Mad Max film.
So with such a superstar in the making, why did La’Roi Glover leave for Dallas two seasons later?
Again, it was that 2001 season. In a toxic locker room that featured rumors regarding Willie Roaf’s wife being involved with a teammate, Albert Connell stealing from Deuce McAllister, Ricky Williams open hostility to McAllister, Kyle Turley’s temper, and Hand’s weight becoming a problem, Glover’s production plummeted. He still got eight sacks, but only 36 tackles to go along with his two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. La’Roi Glover wasn’t a problem in the locker room, but Haslett and Mueller felt the team needed new leadership.
Teams also began running more directly at Glover taking advantage of his aggressiveness and size.
The Saints let La’Roi Glover test the free agent market in 2002, and the Dallas Cowboys quickly signed him. Ironically, with the Cowboys he was lauded for his leadership in the locker room and helped turn the Cowboys back into contenders.
When Dallas switched to a 34 defense, Glover went to the Rams in 2006, and retired from football in 2009.
He was elected to the Saints Hall of Fame in 2013. Former Saints GM Bill Kuharich credited pro player personnel director Chet Franklin for finding Glover, saying he was the “greatest waiver wire claim in team history.”