The New Orleans Saints have signed away Atlanta Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton. He's been a key part of the best run in Falcons history, a young leader, a good dude by all accounts, and the defensive counterpart to Matt Ryan, a fellow 2008 draftee. And now we must despise him. So let it be written. So let Cam'ron lead the way.
This isn't going to be easy. Lofton is an an enjoyable player to root for, whether it's by piling up 10-tackle games or doing the most hollerin' in practice. And he has one of the best nicknames in local history.
He joins the lineage of players who've been on both sides of the rivalry, including Morten Andersen (completely ours -- his job is doing Atlanta TV), Bobby Hebert (theirs, it's safe to say), and Joe Horn (theirs, though some Atlantans would like a piece of him). He'll play the bulk of his career as a Saint, if he completes his five-year deal.
We knew this was coming, of course. His price tag is set to jump, the Birds brought on Lofa Tatupu, Sean Weatherspoon is primed to make this his defense, and there were whispers of Mikes Smith and Nolan being unhappy with Lofton's pass coverage skills. So we knew he'd be leaving. But to Nola?
This also means the Saints have accepted Jonathan Vilma's fate. Vilma, who knows the Falcons so well he makes a show of leaning far over center Todd McClure to listen in whenever Ryan calls signals from the line, will not be missed. He's made a pair of late-game plays during the last two years that have all but decided games in the Saints' favor. (It's worthwhile to note Lofton does not know Dirk Koetter's offense.)
Lofton hasn't made very many of those signature big plays. He's called himself out for it, too. He's said he needs more than just lots of tackles to start making the Pro Bowl. It would be just our luck if he were to suddenly become a ballhawking pass rusher now that he's on the other side. And with Steve Spagnuolo now coaching him, that's not out of the question.
Thinking of Curtis Lofton with anything but respect is hard right now, but just wait until the first time he fouls up one of Atlanta's plans. It'll be easier then. Especially if he takes his nickname with him. There's a relevant rap song there as well. Just saying, in case we need it in a moment of emotion.
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