The New Orleans Saints started the free agent signing period out slowly, frustrating some of their loyal fanbase. While dozens of players where flying off the board, the Saints sat quiet. Then late Wednesday afternoon the NFC South champs struck three times in quick succession. First, they brought back a familiar face, re-signing their 2010 1st round draft choice, cornerback Patrick Robinson, who played last season with Philadelphia. Then they made a huge addition, adding former New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis, and followed that by signing former Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage to back up Drew Brees. Similar to 2017, the Saints have smartly targeted positions of need, and spending precious salary cap money wisely. Entering day two of free agency, there are still some interesting names available that could help fortify some areas of need for the Saints as they prepare for the draft.
Tyrann Mathieu (DB, 25-yrs. old)
Mathieu was released by the Arizona Cardinals after refusing a pay cut, and will be a hot commodity throughout the NFL. The small, but dynamic playmaker does still make his offseason home in New Orleans, and electrified crowds while in college at L.S.U. Mathieu has 11 career interceptions, plays well near the line of scrimmage, and provides solid coverage in the slot. The Honey Badger may be looked at as a luxury for an already talented Saints defensive backfield, but would be a crowd favorite and a versatile and dangerous defensive weapon.
Eric Decker (WR, 31-yrs. old)
The Saints have been one of many teams linked to former Packers All-Pro wideout Jordy Nelson, recently released by Green Bay, but Nelson appears destined to sign elsewhere, perhaps Oakland. Decker could fill a similar role, skilled as both a slot and outside receiver. He works the middle of the field well, and is a good open field runner, able to break short passes into longer gains. Decker flourished in Denver with another accurate passer, Peyton Manning. He is a dangerous red zone weapon, catching 53 career touchdowns, including 49 between 2011-15.
Other notable receivers:
Jordan Matthews (26-yrs. old, Bills)
Kamar Aiken (28-yrs. old, Colts)
Jeremy Maclin (30-yrs. old, Ravens)
Eric Ebron (TE, 24-yrs. old)
Ebron was released by the Detroit Lions on Wednesday after repeated attempts to trade him were unsuccessful. The 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft averaged 47 catches and 518 yards in four seasons while scoring 11 touchdowns, but was inconsistent for Detroit. A freakish athlete like Ebron could flourish in an aggressive New Orleans aerial attack, especially for a tight end position in desperate need of a playmaker. The Saints have also been in contact with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who is meeting with numerous other teams throughout the league as well. This after failing to re-sign some former college basketball player that played for them from 2010-14.
Other notable tight ends:
Tyler Eifert (27-yrs. old, Bengals)
Brent Celek (33-yrs. old, Eagles)
Julius Thomas (29-yrs. old, Dolphins)
Ed Dickson (30-yrs. old, Panthers)
Kony Ealy (EDGE, 26-yrs. old)
Two popular names being thrown out as defensive line additions for the Saints are defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Sheldon Richardson, but each may be more expensive than New Orleans will be willing to spend. One intriguing option is Kony Ealy, a talented defensive end who had 14 career sacks and 6 forced fumbles in 3 seasons with Carolina before spending last year with the Jets. Ealy had a monsterous game in Super Bowl 50 against the Denver Broncos, and could pair well with second year Trey Hendrickson on the edge opposite Cam Jordan.
Other notable defensive linemen:
Adrian Clayborn (DE, 29-yrs. old, Falcons)
Dontari Poe (DT, 27-yrs. old, Falcons)
Jared Crick (DE, 28-yrs. old, Broncos)
Aaron Lynch (DE, 25-yrs. old, 49ers)
Clinton McDonald (DT, 31-yrs. old, Buccaneers)
Bennie Logan (DT, 28-yrs. old)
The Saints still hope to re-sign defensive end Alex Okafor, who was having the best season of his career before an Achilles injury in week 11 ended his year. There is a question whether Okafor will be recovered enough for the start of the 2018 season, but has proven to be a stout run defender and solid pass rusher. He has a scheduled meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and will talk to other teams as well, but has not ruled out a return to New Orleans. The Saints may also look to add depth to a very talented offensive line that lost a key piece when Senio Kelemete signed with the Houston Texans. Expect New Orleans to meet with several available offensive linemen over the next few days to deepen a talented, but precariously thin group.
Where do you think the New Orleans Saints should focus next in free agency?
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Offensive Line Depth