The New Orleans Saints have been busier than many expected during free agency thus far. They added speed and skill to their linebacking corps by signing former New York Jet Demario Davis. A few old friends returned, in former Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson and offensive lineman Jermon Bushrod. The team added veteran leadership to it's secondary as well, by signing former Carolina Panther safety Kurt Coleman. The Saints re-signed defensive ends George Johnson and Alex Okafor, each of whom played a pivotal role in an improved front four. New Orleans also re-signed future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, while giving him a new backup in former Houston Texans starter Tom Savage. The well-publicized courtship of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh continues, but here are a few remaining available free agents that could help New Orleans in positions of need.
Johnathan Hankins (DT, 26-yrs. old)
The New York Giants 2nd round pick in 2013 was surprisingly cut by the Indianapolis Colts just one year after signing with them. The 6'3 320-lb. Hankins, who will be 26 at the end of the month, has shown the potential to be a disruptive force inside. He has 12 career sacks, although 7 came in 2014 with New York. Hankins also attended college at Ohio State, a pipeline that runs strong through New Orleans. He could provide a big presence in the middle if the Saints fail to land Suh.
Other notable defensive linemen:
Bennie Logan (DT, 28-yrs. old, Chiefs)
Robert Ayers (DE, 32-yrs. old, Buccaneers)
Kony Ealy (DE, 26-yrs. old, Jets)
Sylvester Williams (DT, 28-yrs. old, Titans)
Re-signing Okafor to a 2-yr. deal is a big move for this defense, although the Saints heavy courtship of Suh may indicate that they aren't entirely comfortable with their defensive tackles.
Jordan Matthews (WR, 25-yrs. old)
The preference here is still Eric Decker, but Matthews shows the potential of a solid number 2 receiver. A second round draft pick by Philadephia in 2014, Matthews did have over 800 yards receiving in each of his 3 years with the Eagles along with 19 touchdowns before being dealt to Buffalo last season. Injuries and putrid play at quarterback limited Matthews to just 282 yards and a single score with the Bills. The 6'3 212-lb. Matthews is a capable slot receiver, and a good runner in the open field.
Other notable receivers:
Eric Decker (31-yrs. old, Titans)
Jeremy Maclin (29-yrs. old, Ravens)
Kendall Wright (28-yrs. old, Bears)
Saints unrestricted free agent Brandon Coleman has attracted little interest thus far on the market, and it's possible that the team may re-sign the 25-yr. old veteran.
Eric Reid (S, 26-yrs. old)
Reid, the 18th overall draft pick in the 2013 from L.S.U., made the Pro Bowl in his rookie year and had 7 interceptions over his first two seasons with the 49ers. He has good size and athletic ability, and is a solid defender against the run as well as pass coverage.
Other notable safeties:
Morgan Burnett (29-yrs. old, Packers)
Tyvon Branch (31-yrs. old, Cardinals)
Saints unrestricted free agent Kenny Vaccaro, selected 3 picks before Reid in 2013, has also received little interest in a quiet safety market. The Saints appear set at safety, with Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell as starters and Coleman and Chris Banjo to provide depth.
Martellus Bennett (TE, 31-yrs. old)
Bennett is the biggest name remaining among free agent tight ends. A ten year veteran, Bennett is a big target still athletic enough to make plays down the field, though injuries are beginning to slow him down.
Other notable tight ends:
Ben Watson (37-yrs. old, Ravens)
Brent Celek (33-yrs. old, Eagles)
It seems clear that New Orleans will target a tight end fairly early in the upcoming draft, it was arguably the weakest position on the team last season. The Saints pursued Jimmy Graham heavily, but he ultimately chose to sign with Green Bay. New Orleans may also choose to bring in another old friend: Benjamin Watson, who played for the team from 2013-15 is a free agent that played with the Baltimore Ravens last year. The 37-yr. old Watson had the best season of his career in 2015, but may choose to retire rather than return for a 15th season.
Saints unrestricted free agent Delvin Breaux is among a few accomplished veteran cornerbacks left on the market, and it's still possible that the team looks into free agency to bolster offensive line depth. New Orleans is still in the running to land Suh, but otherwise have not met with any other available free agents, having already filled a few important team needs this offseason.