Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This why Darren Sharper is still unsigned

To say that the Saints got Darren Sharper at a bargain in 2009 would be an understatement.  Sharper was the 36th highest paid safety last season at about $1.7 million.  He made less than such guys as Sean Considine (JAX) and Will Allen (TB), two guys who didn't even start for their teams.  With Sharper getting 9 INTs and garnering an All-Pro selection, it's clear that he outplayed his contract that he signed with New Orleans.  So why is he still not signed as of March 23?  The charts below may provide some insight:


***I only looked at seasons from 1978 to the present due to the adoption of the illegal contact penalty in 1978.

When researching this, I never would have imagined that this stat would appear nearly 100% symmetrical on a graph.  As you can see, there are as many occurrences of 2-INT seasons as 4-INT seasons, as many 1-INT seasons as 5-INT seasons, and as many 0-INT seasons as 6-INT seasons.  Only one safety since 1978 has posted back-to-back 8 INT seasons (which is something I'm sure those negotiating with Sharper's agent are aware of).  Keith Lyle had 9 INTs in '96 and 8 INTs in '97 (and didn't make a Pro Bowl in either year!).

The inconsistent number of high-INT seasons is a reason why Sharper isn't getting much love in free agency.  No one outside of he and his agent expect him to post 9 INTs in 2010 after having 9 in 2009.  Not only are players inconsistent from year to year, they can be inconsistent from game to game as Sharper was in 2009.  He had more INTs in the first four games (5) than he had in the last 15 games (4) including the playoffs.

And then there's the age factor:
Rod Woodson (age 37 in 2002) is the only safety aged 35 or older to record more than 4 INTs in a season, and that's not since 1978, that is since 1920.  Sharper will turn 35 mid-season and he doesn't have quite the resume of Woodson who was a first ballot Hall-of-Famer before the '02 season.  But if Sharper can overcome age and history by putting up a 2010 season along the lines of his 2009 season, then he will too one day join Rod Woodson in Canton.

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