As teams across the NFL prepare to make cap decisions that would affect their cap situations in free agency, there are tons of veteran cap casualties that could find themselves in need of new homes come next season. While the Saints have a few holes to fill across the team, some of the veterans cut by their respective teams could make an impact for the Saints. Here are five potential cap casualties that should intrigue the Saints if they were to hit free agency:
TE Julius Thomas (MIA)
After franchise-tagging Jarvis Landry, it would appear if Julius Thomas will be one of the cap casualties as his limited dead cap hit would allow the team to pay up for Landry in 2018. Thomas looked like an emerging star at TE while in Denver with Peyton Manning throwing him the ball, highlighted by a 2013 season that included 788 receiving yards, 12 passing touchdowns, and a 72.2% catch rate. Then Thomas had the likes of Blake Bortles and Jay Cutler as his QB, and his production took a noticeable and expected downturn. In his three years between Jacksonville and Miami, Thomas matched his TD total from his 2013 season and only accumulated 336 more yards over the course of three seasons. If given the chance to work with another Hall of Fame QB, Thomas could see a return to his potential Pro Bowl form.
WR Michael Crabree (OAK)
Reports are that the new Oakland administration does not have a long-term plan in place for Crabtree, so Jon Gruden and Company might otherwise prefer to find their own guys to fit into the Raiders offense. The Saints could instead look to focus on the slot, but if they want to add a Z Receiver opposite Michael Thomas, Crabtree could be their guy. He’s been used as an elite red zone threat even as a wide receiver, grabbing 9, 8, and 8 TDs in each of his three seasons in Oakland. He has 1,000-yard potential and could be another big piece in the Saints offense in 2018.
DE Robert Quinn (LA)
But if the Saints want to instead address defense, maybe they’ll took at look at Robert Quinn. Quinn is a likely cut by the Los Angeles Rams as the Rams look to try to lock up Aaron Donald long-term, but is still a productive NFL veteran at only 28 years old in 2018. He finished 2017 with 8 sacks, but hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his Pro Bowl season in 2014. With his injury history sporadic performance over the past half-decade, the Saints wouldn’t necessarily bring Quinn in as the only option to rush the passer opposite Cam Jordan; but with Hau’oli Kikaha, Trey Hendrickson, and a possible return of Alex Okafor, Quinn could be a huge piece of insurance for the Saints defensive line.
S Kam Chancellor (SEA)
If the Saints want to look at the secondary, there are plenty of veterans to find there as well. As of now, Kam Chancellor remains a Seattle Seahawk, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a roster cut that would just include extra dead money for Seattle. There’s also the strong possibility that Kam instead decides to retire and hang up his cleats before the 2018 season. If the Saints want to bring in Chancellor to replace pending free agent Kenny Vaccaro, then Chancellor shouldn’t be the only answer at Strong Safety for the team. Like Quinn, Chancellor has had a durability issue over the years, and his last 16-game season was all the way back in 2013.
LB Clay Matthews (GB)
Now we’re getting even older. Matthews is even older than Chancellor, but he’s still a productive player in the NFL, even as he enters his age 32 season. Matthews obviously doesn’t have quite the speed and athleticism that he did years ago, but he has a nose for the football and has a knack for making big plays. In 2017, Matthews appeared in only 14 games, but still finished with 7.5 sacks and a forced fumble. With the Saints fielding a defense made up primarily of Cam Jordan and a bunch of kids, if Matthews decides to leave Green Bay (or Green Bay makes that decision for him), Matthews’s veteran presence could go a long way for the development of the Saints defense in the future.