Kevin Seifert’s top 50 free agent list was released on ESPN+ (subsription required) on Tuesday, and while the list is headlined by the obvious choice in Dak Prescott, a few New Orleans Saints also made an appearance. At a seemingly impossible $100 million in the salary cap hole, it’s hard to think how the Saints keep anyone at this point, but Saints fans are accustomed to the cap being more of a guideline at this point.
With that being said, a few Saints have definitely played themselves into bigger contracts this year. Seifert acknowledged them on his list.
12. Trey Hendrickson, Edge
2020 team: New Orleans Saints | Age entering 2021 season: 26
A young pass-rusher who put up 13.5 sacks in his first season as a starter, Hendrickson caught many eyes this year. With many of their top defensive players approaching or exceeding 30, it would seem wise for the Saints to find a way to retain him. But their annual cap crunch will make that a challenge.
Hendrickson certainly had a monster season. Not mentioned in the blurb is that Hendrickson was tied with Aaron Donald for second in the league in sacks — not bad company to be keeping. The reservation, of course, is that Hendrickson had his breakout year in a contract year. But if a player capitalizes on his snaps, he should be rewarded.
29. Marcus Williams, S
2020 team: New Orleans Saints | Age entering 2021 season: 24
Unfortunately known for his missed tackle in the 2017 Minneapolis Miracle, Williams developed into a reliable playmaker in the back end of the Saints’ defense. He has intercepted 13 passes in his four seasons, better than all but seven defenders whose primary position was safety over that span.
Most Saints fans by now recognize Williams for the talent he is. He was a rookie in 2017, and that’s ancient history. Williams has evolved into a consistent rover on the back end of the defense, a position that has gotten harder and harder to play. Despite some bumps early in the year, Williams is a key contributor in a very good Saints secondary.
The most enticing things about these two are their youth and their potential for growth. The Saints have a close-knit defense and it would be a shame to see anyone walk, but their cap situation has them in dire straits. While Hendrickson had a great season, Williams has been fairly steadily good for four years. Having Williams go could destabilize a very good defense, whereas on that defensive line the Saints have a next man up mentality, especially now that Ryan Nielsen will be returning with a promotion.
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