The NFC South is primed to be one of the best divisions in football next season with the emergence of Josh Freeman inÂ Tampa Bay and the continued development ofÂ Matt Ryan inÂ Atlanta.
However, one team remains the clear favorite for that division, and potentially the conference, in my mind at least.
TheÂ New Orleans Saints may have suffered from the Super Bowl hangover that almost all teams seem to these days during last season, but a bounce back to the big game looks to be in the cards this year.
By my very nature I am a cynic, a pessimist, I look for things that don't work rather than those that do. That is the approach I take to theÂ NFL, because each year I find myself noticing that it is the team with the fewest holes that goes home with the Super Bowl ring.
Now that free agency has essentially culminated, the New Orleans Saints have established themselves as that team.
The Saints haven't added any marquee players, but they have brought in some to fix their soft spots. Considering this is a team only a matter of 16 months or so away from a Super Bowl and seven from a playoff appearance, there weren't many to fix.
The winner of free agency isn't the team that signs the best players. The winner of free agency is the team that does the most to set themselves up to win a Super Bowl. Right now, that is the New Orleans Saints.
First, the obvious problems.
Everyone remembers Marshawn Lynch gutting the interior of the Saints' defense last year in the playoffs. Sean Payton and Greg Williams remembered too.
Not only did they add Shaun Rodgers before the Lockout even begun, they also brought in Aubrayo Franklin who specialized in stuffing the run as a 3-4 defensive tackle last year inÂ San Francisco once free agency begun, post lockout.
When Roger Goodell stood at the main podium at Radio City Music hall to announce that the Washington Redskins had traded the 10th overall selection, the Jacksonville Jaguars were not the first team to spring to my mind.
It made sense for either the Minnesota Vikingsâ€”12th overallâ€”or the Miami Dolphinsâ€”15th overallâ€”to jump into the spot to claim the dropping Blaine Gabbert. The Vikings were in desperate need for a successor to Brett Favre at quarterback but decided to stay where they were and add Christian Ponder while the Dolphins instead reaffirmed their believe in Chad Henne by taking the top rated guard Mike Pouncey in the first round.
Surprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars gave up their first and second round selections to move up six places to 10th overall. They in turn took Blaine Gabbert as their quarterback of the future.
Most Jaguars fans will tell you that they do indeed need a quarterback. To an extent that is true as David Garrard is not an elite quarterback.
Garrard however is a good serviceable quarterback who, with the right pieces around him, could take his team to the Super Bowl. Garrard is 33 years of age but hasn't lost much of his athleticism as he still rushed for 279 yards last season. On a run first team, which is what the Jaguars will be so long as Maurice Jones-Drew is running behind their physical offensive line, David Garrard could still give the team three more quality seasons.