It’s not even March and already rumors and talk have been swirling around about what the New Orleans Saints will do this offseason and during the upcoming free agency period. As most know by now, the Saints are in a bit of dire straits when it comes to cap space available. Yet, when you have general manager Mickey Loomis and cap wizard Khai Harley at the wheel, you never know what magic can happen.
One thing is for certain: New Orleans will get creative this offseason. Restructures, extensions, and yes, trades are almost a certainty in the upcoming months. Therefore, let’s focus the latter and on a few players that the Saints should be willing to listen to offers on.
Andrus Peat, Guard
Peat has not lived up to his five-year, $57.5 million contract he signed last offseason. Peat has not been good, and unfortunately for him and the Saints, his worst moments have come at the most inopportune times such as the playoffs. Peat is one of those contracts you’d like to have back, and some may even consider it one of the worst contracts of the Sean Payton-era.
So, how does New Orleans move on? The cleanest break from Peat in terms of cutting the guard would come in 2023, that’s two more seasons rolling with the guard or at least carrying him on the books. The best case scenario is to find a trade partner willing to take Peat and his salary on. To be fair, Peat would be seen as an upgrade to a few offensive lines in the league, but his contract could be cost-prohibitive.
Regardless, the Saints should actively shop Peat and see who bites. If it all works out then New Orleans may gain an extra draft pick. Worst case scenario, the Saints are able to free up coveted cap space ahead of next season.
Taysom Hill, Quarterback
Hill is likely not the future of the quarterback position in New Orleans. Players, coaches and most fans have talked about life after Brees, and few agree it is Hill. Yes, he has played an important role(s) throughout the course of the last few seasons, but his two-year, $21 million contract looks a bit hefty now. While the Saints should not outright cut him, it may behoove them to see if a quarterback needy team would be willing to take on his salary and give up a draft pick in return.
We have said it over and over again this offseason: this team WILL look different come Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. New Orleans can’t keep all of its stars or fan favorites, and if a team comes calling on Hill, you have to listen. When it is well known that the human Swiss Army knife isn’t the future quarterback, then you have to move on and recoup some of the loss.
Malcolm Brown, Defensive Tackle
To be completely honest, Brown could be a good stop-gap at the position that Sheldon Rankins has held over the course of the last few seasons (minus his injury filled 2019 season). However, Brown appears to be a likely cut in an effort to achieve some cap space savings this offseason. If the Saints are planning on cutting him, then it would be wise to at least shop him around and see what a team would be willing to offer for a good depth piece that could be a solid addition to just about any defensive line in the league.
His three-year, $15 million contract is affordable to most teams, and in a normal season he may not be a cut candidate for New Orleans. However, cutting him would save the Saints nearly $5 million in much needed cap space. Unfortunately for Brown and how his contract was backloaded, he now has to face the crunch of the cap or be traded.
Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver
Let’s start this by making myself clear: no I am not advocating for Thomas to be traded to just any team for a nice draft pick or two. Instead, I have Thomas on this list for one reason: as a piece to be used to acquire a franchise quarterback.
Those quarterbacks include Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. The asking price for Watson is expected to be exorbitant, and rightfully so. The Houston Texans would be giving up the best and biggest asset, a generational talent still in his mid-twenties. Wilson on the other hand seems to have a price tag of about three first round picks. That seems a little high for a very good quarterback, but an aging one at that. Would the Saints mortgage the future for one of these quarterbacks? Should they?
What if to get Wilson the Seahawks asked for the next two first round picks from New Orleans and Michael Thomas? That seems almost too good of a deal for a quarterback who was an early MVP-favorite in 2020. Imagine Wilson as the guy under center after Brees retires, New Orleans would never skip a beat, even without Thomas on the field.
All of that being said, New Orleans shouldn’t entertain the idea of trading it’s All-Pro unless it nets one of the biggest quarterbacks on the trade market.
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