It’s hard not the be encouraged and love what the New Orleans Saints were able to accomplish on the first day of NFL Free Agency. The team was able to address some big areas of needs, and even brought back one of their own in Nick Fairley.
While the new free agent class of A.J. Klein, Ted Ginn Jr., and Larry Warford are sure to make a big impact, the work is far from over for head coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. The team still needs a pass rusher - which may have to be a situational one at this stage of the game - and cornerback. With that being said, here’s a few Day 2 targets the black and gold should have on their radar.
- Prince Amukamara (27) - He’s a very under the radar option in free agency, and it’s crazy that his camp isn’t getting that much attention right now. Amukamara essentially went in with the Jaguars on a one-year prove it deal, and came out on top. Reportedly, he’s seeking around $8-9 million per year. With no suitors out of the gate and with other teams focusing on the ‘big guns’, his value could drop to be very appealing.
- Sterling Moore (27) - He wants to re-sign with the Saints, but he’s testing the market. No one can blame him, especially after last season. Moore was asked to fill in when the Saints were devastated by injuries, and he ended up turning heads. Moore should get more interest as we get deeper into free agency.
- Alterraun Verner (28) - Let’s address the elephant in the room. Verner was a complete free agent bust with the Buccaneers. Multiple teams are reportedly in the mix for Verner, and the Saints should be interested. Obviously, Verner will have a lot to prove to any team he’d land with. He won’t command the type of money from before, and could be a real value add.
- John Simon (26) - I can’t sum it up much better than John Sigler did the other day. Simon is one of those guys who’ve been lost in the shuffle with the Texans. He does a little bit of everything, and could end up being one of those guys who could realistically be a full-time defensive end because of his work ethic and skill set. Keep a close eye on him.
- Jabaal Sheard (27) - He’s reportedly set to visit the Dolphins, who just paid a lot of money to secure Andre Branch. Like some of the other prized pass rushers in free agency, Sheard is likely going to get paid even though he regressed some in 2016. I don’t think it bodes well for the Saints, but you can’t ignore a guy like him being on the market.
- Devin Taylor (27) - A towering 6-foot-7, 275-pound edge rusher, Taylor couldn’t stay with the Lions because of salary cap purposes. He’s played in 31-of-32 games over the past two seasons with 11.5 sacks to show for.
- Gerald Hodges, LB (26) - He’s visiting the Chiefs, and I’d have a hard time seeing him escaping Kansas City. However, he’s been one of my favorite linebacker targets in free agency. The Saints hosted Manti Te’o on Thursday, which could mean they’re still in the market for another linebacker - which would be smart. Hodges is extremely underrated, and is strong against the run.
- Sean Spence, LB (26) - I had him on the radar back in February, as he really rebounded in his time with the Titans. He can cover and serves as a good special teams option. His last deal was pretty friendly at a one-year, $2.5 million price tag. Perhaps a multi-year deal around $5-6 million could get him in the building.
- Rex Burkhead, RB (26) - The running back market is pretty cold right now, and all you have to do is look at big names like Jamaal Charles and Latavius Murray just having visits and limited interest. Burkhead would be the personal choice for the Saints to grab in free agency, should they decide to pass on Tim Hightower. He brings a full compliment of services to the table, which is something Sean Payton wants. Additionally, Matt Asiata would be another option the Saints could look at.
- Michael Thomas, DB (26) - The Dolphins put a low tender on Thomas at $1.8 million, and he’s someone worth looking into. He’s a special teams ace, for starters, and can play both safety and cornerback. He logged 622 snaps last season, and with Jairus Byrd seemingly out of the picture right now, the Saints need a free safety option. Of course, the thought of two Michael Thomas’ (Thomasi?) on the roster could get confusing.