The easy explanation for the Saints’ interest in free-agent defensive end Alex Brown is that they released Charles Grant earlier this year. But Brown also provides the Saints with a valuable insurance policy, in the event that Will Smith isn’t available for the first four games of the 2010 season.
If the lawsuit filed by Vikings defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams eventually fails (a decision is expected by the middle of May), the NFL most likely will impose a four-game suspension on the Williamses and on Smith. Last season, the league secured a legal green light to suspend Smith and Grant after testing positive in 2008 for Bumetanide, a prescription diuretic that secretly had been added to the over-the-counter weight-loss supplement known as StarCaps.
The NFL opted not to suspend Smith and Grant, given that the league had been prevented from suspending Pat and Kevin Williams for the same violation. And so for the same reason that the folks at 280 Park Avenue opted not to suspend Smith and Grant at a time when the Williamses were legally protected, the league is highly unlikely to suspend the Williamses without also suspending Smith and Grant, who remains a free agent.
Bottom line? Three key players could be absent if the Vikings and the Saints get together on the evening of September 9 to launch the 2010 season. Alex Brown, however, will be available.