The NFL trade deadline comes into effect this Tuesday, November 1 at 3:00 PM CST and teams are already scrambling to make moves while they still can. The New England Patriots have been the biggest hub of activity, shuffling their linebacker and tight end corps. Maybe the New Orleans Saints should get in on the action, and here’s a few players that can be moved.
Stephone Anthony, Linebacker
It’s a tough pill to swallow, but early returns indicate that the Saints blew it in drafting Stephone Anthony in the first round last year. The linebacker has yet to see a start in his second year, with the Saints opting to move journeymen like Craig Robertson and Michael Mauti to the middle linebacker spot rather than play Anthony. How could a player they invested so much in fall out of favor so quickly?
Anthony had a solid rookie year on paper, topping 100 tackles and making several splash plays. But he has neither instincts nor impressive football IQ. Anthony regularly failed to diagnose the play and line up the defense in response, which turned into coverage breakdowns and big plays. He just didn’t know what was in front of him and took too long to react to it. The NFL game has been too fast and nuanced for him.
Anthony has played only 55 snaps seven weeks into the 2016 season, and doesn’t look to be returning to the lineup anytime soon. Whatever value he may have to another team, the Saints should pounce on it before cutting bait with Anthony as another early-round draft bust. Maybe a team with better position coaches could find a role for him.
Mark Ingram, Running Back
I’m a Mark Ingram fan and think he’s terribly underrated. He does a lot of things well and is a key part of the Saints’ passing game, serving well in blitz pickup and as a receiver out of the backfield. But like it or not, Ingram has fumbled twice in back-to-back weeks. Tim Hightower surpassing expectations to fill in after Ingram was benched against Seattle just adds fuel to this fire.
I’m not confident the Saints can replace Ingram’s production for the next half of the season through a combination of Hightower, Daniel Lasco, and Travaris Cadet. None of those guys have proven they can be a long-term starter at the NFL level, whether that’s due to injuries (Hightower), inexperience (Lasco), or not being very good at football (Cadet).
But if Sean Payton’s faith in Ingram is wavering and a running back-needy team like the Detroit Lions or Denver Broncos makes a call, what if the price is right? If a team offers a mid-round pick for Ingram, the Saints could make the move. Next year’s draft class looks supremely-talented. LSU faithful would foam at the mouth and speak in tongues at the prospect of ditching Alabama’s Ingram for hometown Superman Leonard Fournette.
John Jenkins, Nose Tackle
It’s taken a couple of years and multiple transactions, but the Saints have finally started to build an NFL-quality defensive line. Nick Fairley, Tyeler Davison, and rookie David Onyemata have all joined Cameron Jordan to make the foundations for a dominant front four. First round pick Sheldon Rankins, maybe the most-talented of the bunch, is expected to make his career debut next Sunday against San Francisco.
But there’s a problem, and its name is John Jenkins. The mammoth nose tackle looks the part but hasn’t played at a high level. Jenkins consistently gets pushed off the line of scrimmage and doesn’t win enough of his battles in the trenches. At best, he’s a non-factor in the middle of the line. On his worst days, Jenkins is a liability.
The biggest issue with Jenkins is that he doesn’t fit the Saints’ defensive philosophy. Dennis Allen wants a disruptive front that can get upfield and make plays without blitzing. They need to be able to shed blocks rather than facilitate plays for the linebackers.
That’s not what Jenkins does, but maybe a team in need of depth at nose tackle decides to take a flyer on the former third round draft pick. Maybe the New England Patriots can make something click for Jenkins in the same way they turned Akiem Hicks’ NFL career around last year?