Dilemma wasn’t just a song by Nelly featuring Kelly Rowland, as the Saints have a huge one in deciding on Kenny Vaccaro and his future with the organization.
After finishing his season on IR with 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 7 pass defense, and 3 interceptions in 12 games, Vaccaro stands out as one of the most important offseason decisions the Saints have to make in 2018.
It goes without saying that No. 32 brings an infectious passion that is unparalleled. He’s a football player through and through that gives 100 percent at all times and can best be described as a jack of all trades, but master of none.
At one point during the 2016 season, Vaccaro had filled roles as a safety, slot DB, SAM linebacker, and WILL linebacker while Dannell Ellerbe was injured.
He’s played strong safety, he’s defended slot receivers and he’s played multiple linebacker spots.
”There’s a lot on his plate, and he plays it well,” cornerback Sterling Moore said.
So, a good question to ask is how much do the Saints value this ability heading into 2018?
At his peak, Vaccaro was considered a valuable centerpiece along with Cam Jordan. However, in recent years the Saints have added A.J. Klein (SAM), Alex Anzalone (WILL), P.J. Williams (Slot DB), and Vonn Bell (SS), decreasing the need for the young enforcers flexibility.
“We want him to be an all-around safety,” Glenn said. “For him to be as effective as he can be, he has to be able to play back deep. He’s been doing that better.”
In theory, the above additions would allow Vaccaro to focus on doing just what Aaron Glenn was suggesting in 2017, but after a tumultuous start he was benched in Week 2 and the idea scrapped. Once Week 3 began, we saw Vaccaro return to his more familiar hybrid slot/LB role where he excelled until a groin injury started to sap his production.
In the highlight below, Vaccaro was in Robber coverage and obviously has a good understanding of the defense as he jumps a route knowing the others are covered and successfully intercepts Cam Newton.
Kenny Vaccaro with the third pick of Cam Newton!! pic.twitter.com/y8cJ9gYIyb— TheSaintsWire (@TheSaintsWire) September 24, 2017
I predicted at the beginning of the season one of two things would happen.
Vaccaro would either become the all-around safety they were envisioning and play himself out of New Orleans, or underplay and make the decision to walk away from him easier.
To a degree, neither happened and thus is where the dilemma begins.
I’m sure the Saints and fans alike would prefer to avoid a similar situation to 2014 where they allowed Malcolm Jenkins to walk and the back end of the secondary suffered as communication was a mess.
On the other hand, Pro Football Focus had Vaccaro as the 117th-rated safety this season, lowest among all qualifying players.
It’s also been made clear that Dennis Allen would like safeties that are interchangeable to assist with disguise and flexibility of the defense.
When the team shows a two-safety shell with Vaccaro playing alongside rookie Marcus Williams or Vonn Bell, it will allow the players to be more interchangeable. At the snap, either player can drop deep or move down in the box, making the defense harder to read. - Nick Underhill
Knowing this, and knowing that Vaccaro has his limits as a more in the box SS and having a similar player in Vonn Bell, who is a cheaper alternative - the Saints have a decision to make.
To V or not to V, that is the question!
Should the Saints bring back Kenny Vaccaro in 2018?
This poll is closed
Yes, do whatever it takes
Sure, but on a friendly contract
Nah, look elsewhere