The New Orleans Saints have over 20 pending free agents in 2021 and little cap space with which to operate (understatement). The Saints won’t be able to keep everyone, but when the fit is there, they will need to do what they can to make a re-signing possible. It is generally cheaper to keep pending free agents than it is to sign new ones and bring them onto the team.
Unfortunately for the Saints, two of their biggest pending free agents - DE Trey Hendrickson and S Marcus Williams - who each appear in ESPN’s Top 50 Free Agents list, are thought to have better fits outside of the Black and Gold (Insider Required).
Trey Hendrickson (ESPN’s 12th best free agent in 2021):
Best fit: Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons need help at several spots on defense after Dante Fowler Jr. produced an underwhelming three sacks last year. New Atlanta GM Terry Fontenot helped draft and develop Hendrickson in New Orleans. He’s very familiar with his skill set. Some teams will have concerns about Hendrickson as a one-hit wonder who benefited from playing opposite Cameron Jordan (6.5 sacks in his first three seasons before a 13.5-sack breakout last year), but the Saints might be more comfortable giving him that money because of the large file they have on him.
The Falcons have serious work to do before free agency while sitting $41.7 million over the cap.
Yuck. While keeping Trey might not be possible, seeing him go to the division rival Atlanta Falcons could sting even more.
Marcus Williams (ESPN’s 29th best free agent in 2021):
Best fit: Detroit Lions
New Lions coach Dan Campbell and defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn come from New Orleans, where they watched Williams intercept 13 passes and break up 30 more over four seasons. A defense in need of playmaking on the back end will explore signing the instinctual post safety. So will New Orleans. Players with his ball skills get paid.
Keeping Marcus around is a huge priority for me, and something I prioritize right after addressing the team’s quarterback situation:
My offseason priorities:— Canal St. Chronicles (@SaintsCSC) February 8, 2021
1. Re-sign Jameis (just so we know the direction at QB)
2. Re-sign Marcus Williams
3. Draft edge help to replace Trey Hendrickson (I just don't think we'll be able to afford him)
If between Trey and Marcus, give me Marcus 1,000 times over. As ESPN noted, Marcus’s ball skills are hard to find. With Trey, edge pressure can probably be found elsewhere - and likely cheaper.
But if the options are let Trey go to the Falcons or let Marcus become a Lion.... Sorry, dirty birds.
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