In the NFL, versatility is key. Every team needs pieces who can fill in multiple spots throughout an injury-ridden NFL season. The Saints have guys like Taysom Hill on offense and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on defense who fit this billing.
With 17 players from the 2019-2020 Saints roster hitting the market as unrestricted free agents, finding more players with this type of versatility helps tremendously.
This is where a guy like Kendall Fuller could come in handy.
The former third-round pick is coming off of his rookie contract after playing the last two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, and is entering unrestricted free agency in March.
A versatile chess piece in the Steve Spagnuolo defense, Fuller has filled snaps at slot corner, wide corner and both safety spots on a defense that helped its team capture a Lombardi trophy.
He has primarily been a slot corner through most of his career, but in 2019 he moved all over.
Just over 50 percent of snaps came at slot, while 22.4 percent came at free safety.
As an example of his versatility, the game-sealing interception he caught in Super Bowl LIV came while he was lined up at free safety.
In a Cover 2/Quarters look, Fuller is playing the deep half of the trips side of the field. The Niners attempt to attack the middle of the field on the seam route by Deebo Samuel.
Fuller diagnoses it and meshes down perfectly, snagging it out of the air without interfering with the receiver. And just like that, the Super Bowl was theirs.
Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen seems to favor players he can move around, like CJGJ, P.J. Williams, Kenny Vaccaro, Vonn Bell and Patrick Robinson. Fuller fits this mold.
Corner already is a need, in my opinion. Plus, if Vonn Bell, Janoris Jenkins or P.J. Williams leaves in free agency, having a guy who can play corner and safety would be huge.
Not only is Fuller a traveling man in the back line of a defense, but the 25-year-old has performed at a promising level through his first four seasons.
Despite struggling with a few injuries since being drafted, he’s gotten his hands on the ball a ton on coverage.
Including postseason play, he’s picked off nine passes and broken up a whopping 18 in the last three years, while missing six games to injury in that span.
He did this while allowing only 10.7 yards per catch. For comparison, P.J. Williams has allowed 12.8 yards per catch in that same time frame.
His ball skills were apparent on this play against the Broncos in 2018. He’s playing outside corner with outside leverage on Demaryius Thomas at the top of the screen, and reads the flea flicker perfectly.
Case Keenum struggles with the snap a bit, giving Fuller enough time to recognize the play, and he breaks on the ball, making a great grab.
The closing speed it takes to make a play like this, combined with the hands to make the catch is remarkable.
In Week 1 of his second year in the league, he was matched up in the slot against Nelson Agholor, who’s got real speed.
The Redskins are in a man coverage look, with inside brackets on Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffrey. Staying true to their brackets, both safeties come down pretty low, leaving Agholor one-on-one with Fuller on the deep post from the slot.
This ball is underthrown a bit, but Fuller does a fantastic job of locating and breaking it up without interfering with the receiver.
He prevents a monster play in the process.
Plays like this, combined with his age and injury history, could make Fuller a valued cost in free agency.
It’s unclear exactly what his market value will be yet, but if the Saints don’t bring back secondary members like Vonn Bell or Janoris Jenkins, look for them to target a guy like Fuller to add depth and versatility to a very important position group.