Darryl Tapp was signed by the New Orleans Saints to provide depth at the defense end spot that was left thin with the injury to Hau’oli Kikaha. The hope was that Tapp, who before the season had been in the league for 10 years, could help the team in a rotational role and help the rebuilding process of a historically bad defense.
What we got in 2016
Tapp didn’t get much playing time in 2016, but he made sure to make an impact whenever he got the chance. He held his own in pass defense, despite only finishing with a half sack throughout the season, but his real impact came against the run. Tapp consistently held his edge and finished with 17 total tackles in only 135 snaps against the run. That’s really nice numbers for a guy who didn't get nearly the playing time we might have hoped for.
Not enough snaps might just have been Tapp’s biggest problem in 2016. He simply didn't get enough. With 292 defensive snaps, he only lined up on defense for 27.8 percent of the defensive plays. It was 278 snaps less than fellow defensive end Paul Kruger, who I wrote about previously, didn't play well at all and maybe shouldn't have been taking playing time from Tapp, who without question played better throughout the season.
If we take a look at the grading from Pro Football Focus, we see that Tapp played a lot better than every edge defender outside of Cameron Jordan, and arguably should have been the starter at the right defensive end spot.
What does this mean going forward?
Tapp will be a free agent this offseason, and the Saints should have an interest in bringing him back. The Saints will hopefully improve the defensive end spot either through the draft and/or free agency, but bringing back Tapp as a rotational guy and as a veteran in the locker room would make a lot of sense.
Having a good backup and a guy who plays hard against the run will only help the team, and Tapp might not require much more than the veteran minimum to come back to New Orleans.