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Best Remaining Defensive Free Agents the Saints Can Sign

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Now that we're a few days into the 2016 free agency period, here's a list of players still available that might be able to help the Saints.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints have yet to make a splash in free agency on the defensive side of the ball. But surely they're going to be making a move or two, right? We can only hope.

Here is a list of defensive free agents that are currently still available to sign. All of the info and analysis that follows below is from Walter Football and NOT my own.

Defensive End

Chris Long, DE, Rams. Age: 31 - Chris Long used to be a great defensive end, but he has fallen off recently. He played in just six games in 2014, and then a knee injury rendered him ineffective this past season. Perhaps he'll be able to rebound, but at 31 (in March), his best days are long gone.

Jason Jones, DE, Lions. Age: 30 - Jason Jones has never been the same since tearing his patellar tendon a couple of years ago, but he was decent in 2015. He didn't really show any weaknesses in his game, though he wasn't overly forceful.

Quinton Coples, DE, Dolphins. Age: 26 - Quinton Coples has been a colossal bust thus far whose lethargy has ruined his career. However, he's very talented and could develop into a solid player if he gets his act together.

Wallace Gilberry, DE, Bengals. Age: 31 - Age may have caught up to Wallace Gilberry, whose sack total dropped from 7.5 in 2013 to two this past year. However, he's still a capable situational pass-rusher.

George Selvie, DE, Giants. Age: 29 - George Selvie racked up seven sacks in 2013. He managed just one this past season, but did a good job of containing the run.

Jeremy Mincey, DE, Cowboys. Age: 32 - Jeremy Mincey has been a solid defensive end for the Cowboys, especially in terms of run support, but he just turned 32, so his best years are behind him.

Defensive Tackle

Nick Fairley, DT, Rams. Age: 28 - What I wrote about Nick Fairley last year still applies: "If Nick Fairley is trying his hardest, he can be one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Unfortunately, Fairley has a history of lethargy and character issues that make him a big risk." Fairley signed a 1-year "prove it" deal with St. Louis and played extremely well. He has earned a larger contract this offseason, but teams should still be wary.

B.J. Raji, NT, Packers. Age: 30 - B.J. Raji had a strong start to his 2015 campaign before sustaining a groin injury in October. His play has declined ever since. This is nothing new for Raji, who has been hindered by injuries his entire career.

Terrance Knighton, NT, Redskins. Age: 30 - Terrance Knighton signed a 1-year "prove it" deal last offseason, but he didn't exactly prove anything. He stuffed the run somewhat well, but that was it. Knighton was on the field for about a third of the snaps to close out the season.

Jason Hatcher, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 34 - Jason Hatcher used to be very talented; he recorded 11 sacks in 2013. However, he slowed down last season, struggling to put pressure on the quarterback. He can still play though, as he was solid in run support.


Mike Neal, DE/OLB, Packers. Age: 29 - A jack of all trades, master of none, Mike Neal is a sub-par starter, but can play numerous positions in Green Bay's defense.

Vincent Rey, OLB, Bengals. Age: 28 - Vincent Rey had been a capable starter when given the chance prior to this season, but he was a bit of a disappointment in 2015. Perhaps he'd be better at middle linebacker.

Chad Greenway, OLB, Vikings. Age: 33 - Chad Greenway used to be a great player, but he has regressed now that he's in his 30s. He was a major liability in run support this past season.

O'Brien Schofield, DE/OLB, Falcons. Age: 29 - Ideally, O'Brien Schofield would be a situational pass-rusher. However, the Falcons had to use him on most plays last season, thanks to the poor talent up front. He wasn't bad, but he was far from a strength.

Jerrell Freeman, ILB, Colts. Age: 30 - I don't know what Jerrell Freeman did last offseason, but he should repeat whatever his workout regimen was because he improved dramatically in 2015. Freeman was constantly abused in the run game the year before, but he was an absolute force in that regard this past season. He was also solid in coverage.

Bruce Carter, ILB, Buccaneers. Age: 28 - Bruce Carter had an awful 2015 campaign in which he got benched for a mid-round rookie, but I explained why in the Top 10 Worst NFL Free Agent Signings of 2015 page. Carter sucks in the 4-3, but has played well in the 3-4 earlier in his career. He needs to stop chasing big contracts and settle with an organization that can actually utilize him properly.

DeMeco Ryans, ILB, Eagles. Age: 32 - DeMeco Ryans struggled mightily this past season, but blame clueless Chip Kelly for making the horrible mistake of installing a defense he wanted rather than one that fit the skills of his players. Ryans had never performed well in the 3-4, so perhaps he'll rebound on a new team that utilizes the 4-3. Unfortunately for Ryans, he turns 32 in July.

James Laurinaitis, ILB, Rams. Age: 29 - James Laurinaitis looked like he would be a great pro for a very long time in his first couple of NFL seasons, but he has inexplicably regressed since. He was so bad last year that he could've been considered the worst starting linebacker in the NFL. I'm not sure what happened to Laurinaitis, and there's still time to turn things around, but if he weren't such a big name, I'd probably have him as a 1.5-star player; I'm just listing him here because he's a big name and needs a write-up.


Leon Hall, CB, Bengals. Age: 31 - Pacman Jones was better than Leon Hall in 2015, but Hall is rated higher here because he's a year younger and has been dominant for so much longer. Regardless, losing both would be crushing for Cincinnati.

Brandon Boykin, CB, Steelers. Age: 26 - The Steelers had one of the top nickel corners in the NFL at their disposal, yet they inexplicably didn't use him for most of the year. Overwhelmed defensive coordinator Keith Butler finally began utilize him in December, and it paid off big time, as Brandon Boykin performed extremely well.

Casey Hayward, CB, Packers. Age: 26 - Casey Hayward is a terrific cover corner, but struggles mightily when it comes to tackling. He's only 26 though, so he has plenty of time to improve that aspect of his game.

Sterling Moore, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26 - Not that it's saying much, or really anything, but Sterling Moore was Tampa's best cornerback in 2015. Just 26 in February, Moore has plenty of room for growth.

Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets. Age: 32 - Antonio Cromartie was atrocious in 2015, prompting the Jets to release him after one season into his 4-year, $32 million deal. However, I'm not ready to give up on Cromartie. He was solid in 2014, and his poor play this past season could be attributed to knee and thigh injuries he dealt with. There's a chance Cromartie is done, given that he turns 32 in April, but no one should be surprised if he bounces back elsewhere.

Nolan Carroll, CB, Eagles. Age: 29 - Nolan Carroll was the best cornerback on Philadelphia's roster this past season, but that's like picking a fat chick in a room full of them and calling her the most attractive one. Carroll missed the final five games of the year with a broken ankle.