Top 10 Worst free agents signed by the New Orleans Saints
10. James “Tootie” Robbins
9. Grady Jackson
8. Eric Allen
7. Wally Williams
6. Dale Carter
And now… 5. Jason David
Although I have a few surprises left, here’s where we come to the more predictable names on the list –so let’s begin with Jason David.
Saints fans would scoff at this, but there was a time when David was considered one of the best up and coming cover cornerbacks in the NFL. In his three years as a Colt, the 5’8” corner had snagged eight interceptions, 148 tackles, a fumble recovery and scored a TD.
At 24 year old, the restricted free agent appeared to be a bright, young, aggressive corner who would help the Saints defense get over the NFC Championship game hump and into the Super Bowl.
It’s also important to note, that Fred Thomas, the 11 year veteran, had been a favorite target opposite Mike McKenzie, and had gotten beaten several times during the 2006 season, as well as by Donte Stallworth and Benard Berrian in the playoffs.
The Saints signed David to a 4 year, $15.6 million offer sheet, and the Colts had 7 days to match. The cap strapped Colts declined, and received the Saints 4th round pick in the 2007 draft. David’s signing was part of an overhaul of the Saints secondary that also saw the Saints sign Kevin Kaesviharn at safety, and the drafting of Usama Young and corner.
The Saints would quickly learn that they made a $15.6 million dollar mistake. The Colts, as defending Super Bowl champions, hosted the Saints for the Thursday Night season kickoff game. For many Saints fans, this was the Super Bowl that was supposed to happen after the 2006 season, but didn’t.
David made the first big play, recovering a fumble and scoring what turned out to be the only Saints TD of the night. However, after that big play, David was burned for three touchdown passes from Manning to Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. The Colts won, 41-10.
And honestly, that’s what you got with David, a handful of great plays, mixed in with a ton of huge, negative plays.
On the plus side of the ledger, David picked of 8 passes in two seasons –including 5 in 2008. He also logged 68 tackles, despite being limited to the nickel back for much of the 2008 season.
But then came the negative plays. Aside from the Thursday Night meltdown against the Colts, David’s Saints career went a lot like this:
In 2007, he gave up a 69-yard TD by Tampa Bay’s Joey Galloway, an 80-yard TD by Jacksonville’s Reggie Williams, and a 73-yard TD to Andre Johnson. He also gave up a pair of TDs to the 0-8 St. Louis Rams.
In 2008, David gave up a 39-yard TD at Tampa (Galloway again), a 39-yard jump ball to Steve Smith, and a completed his trifecta of infamy with 39-yard pass interference call in Chicago that later resulted in a touchdown.
David was waived in August of 2009, after Saints corners Jabari Greer, Tracy Porter and rookie Malcolm Jenkins had beaten him out, saving the Saints $2.4 million.
So why was David such as disaster? The simple answer was scheme coupled with limited athletic ability for what the Saints wanted to do.
David was a good, but not great cover 2 cornerback, and the Saints were putting him in more man coverages, and without good safeties to protect him over the top, his gambling instincts, coupled with his average speed exposed him far too often.
Likewise, the Saints did not have a great defensive cast around him. Gary Gibbs’ defense struggled to generate a pass rush, and his blitzes were often easily picked up. As a result, quarterbacks had time to pick the Saints struggling secondary apart.
Finally, in 2008, the Saints tried to protect David by demoting him to nickel and sometimes dime packages, but injuries forced David back into the starting line-up, which resulted in more big plays given up.
David has become the symbol of futility that has been the Saints cornerback position for decades, but only ranks as the fifth worst free agent because despite all of the big plays he gave up, he actually made plays.
The remaining five are players who contributed nothing but problems and controversy.