Despite the likely lower salary cap this upcoming season, the New Orleans Saints will still have some money to be able to dole out new contracts to free agents. We recently took a look at some free agents that could be potentially be a good fit for the Saints. However, just are there are good fits for the team, there are some free agents that New Orleans should avoid altogether.
These players could have issues relating to their performances in previous seasons, potential large contract, personality issues or signing them just doesn’t signal the right message.
Here are some players that the Saints should avoid when deciding who to sign in free agency this upcoming offseason:
Jadeveon Clowney, Defensive End
Many Saints fans will remember back to last offseason when reports started flooding in that New Orleans had heavy interest in signing Clowney to a deal for the 2020 season. Ultimately, that deal would never come to fruition and after a long offseason Clowney signed a one-year, $13 million deal with the Tennessee Titans to help re-establish value and reset his market.
The #Saints tried to acquire Jadeveon Clowney by having another team sign him to a 1 yr, $15M contract ($5M bonus), who would then trade Clowney to NO for a 2nd round pick & a player. The Saints would then owe Clowney a $10M salary.— Spotrac (@spotrac) September 6, 2020
The NFL nixed it.https://t.co/zWjceb2rTa
In hindsight, New Orleans dodged a bullet. Clowney’s 2020 season was lackluster to say the least, as he started just eight games and never recorded a sack, and forced just one fumble. Now that he is an unrestricted free agent, talk among fans is re-igniting to sign Clowney to the Saints for the 2020 season. That talk may only get louder considering the team may be about to watch Trey Hendrickson walk out the door and put another uniform on.
With Clwoney’s performance, injury history and potential price, the Saints should avoid Clowney in free agency this offseason. They dodged a bullet once already.
Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver
Brown is another player that seems like it was just months ago when New Orleans had some type of interest in bringing on the player. However, his visit to the team facility in 2019 went wayward and head coach Sean Payton and the rest of the staff did not want to bring Brown and his potential distractions into a locker room that had Super Bowl aspirations that season.
Antonio Brown didn't show up alone to the #Saints workout.@MikeGarafolo's sources say AB brought a camera crew and an entourage with him. pic.twitter.com/FSjLIC3A3Y— GMFB (@gmfb) December 28, 2019
The 2021 offseason should be no different. Despite Brown’s current performance in Tampa Bay, Brown still has ongoing legal matters that could complicate his 2021 situation and availability. Additionally, Brown is quite literally living with Tom Brady in order to ensure he stays out of trouble and continues to work hard in order to accomplish the team goal of winning a Super Bowl. If Drew Brees were around for the 2021 season, and he and Brittany let Brown stay in their mother-in-law suite for an entire season (would never happen, let’s be honest), then maybe it could have worked out. But, with a potential leadership void in the Saints locker room come next season, Antonio Brown is a personality that should be avoided altogether.
Jared Cook, Tight End
First of all, yes, Jared Cook is an unrestricted free agent. There are multiple incorrect reports floating around that cutting Cook would save the Saints cap space this offseason. His original contract was a two-year deal with 2021 being a voidable year. He is a free agent. He can’t be cut.
With that out of the way, when Cook signed with New Orleans just two seasons ago there was plenty of optimism that he could be the tight end the team had been searching for since the departure of Jimmy Graham. After all, Cook had proven himself a route runner and pass catcher during his stints with the then-Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams. Hence the reason the Saints signed him to a two-year, $15 million deal.
At times throughout the last two seasons Cook has looked bad, good, and great. His 2019 campaign was better than his 2020, and even then it took him almost half the season to find his rhythm in a new offense. His 705 receiving yards in 2019 was above his career average, and his nine touchdowns that season were also a career high. However, he regressed significantly in 2020. It is worth noting that Brees did miss nine games over the course of Cook’s tenure with New Orleans, but Cook was paid to do a job and unfortunately he never lived up to the contract.
People really entertaining a "should the Saints bring back Jared Cook" debate.— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) January 22, 2021
Y'all haven't had enough? pic.twitter.com/fdmIpGI1eJ
With plenty of options on the free agent market and through the draft, Cook is one that the Saints should avoid signing in free agency for the sole fact that maybe the fit between the two just isn’t right. They tried. It didn’t work. It’s time for both parties to move on.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Quarterback
What’s not to like about Fitzpatrick? Everyone remembers his swag in Tampa Bay, everyone knows his nickname of “Fitzmagic” and yes, he helped Miami become a winning ball club again this past season. It’s for these reasons that some may think that a veteran like Fitz would be a good fit for a one-year deal with the Saints as a stop-gap. By signing Fitz, New Orleans could then draft and develop a young quarterback while Fitzpatrick leads the way, perhaps even capably, in 2021.
So things are getting WEIRD in Tampa right now. "It's nothing, man," Ryan Fitzpatrick said of this ensemble. "We've just gotta make sure we stay humble." https://t.co/UU09baUlnM pic.twitter.com/4h8qzXOWRc— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) September 16, 2018
It would be the exact play from the exact same playbook as what Miami did this past season with Tua Tagovailoa. In fact, the Dolphins were in the thick of the playoff race until the very last moment. The issue is that by signing Fitzpatrick it would signal that New Orleans may not be all in this season, something General Manager Mickey Loomis has already committed to doing. Instead, signing a player like Jameis Winston to a deal would ensure that all the offensive firepower already locked up on the team would have a chance to operate at its intended level, while giving the defense another opportunity to shine.
As much fun as having Fitzpatrick on the team would be, he doesn’t represent the best chance of winning in 2021.
Juju Smith-Shuster, Wide Receiver
Juju is a fantastic and talented player. His 1426 yards in 2018 was eye-popping and his consistency as a WR1 has been there since his rookie year in 2017. And while he would be a great addition opposite of Michael Thomas, there are some serious issues standing in the way.
JuJu Smith-Schuster said he won't change and he kept his word. Here he is doing his dance at the midfield logo tonight.pic.twitter.com/7DbchxzKFm— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 21, 2020
First, is his price tag. Juju will likely be looking for a contract north of $15 million per year. We can talk about Loomis and Khai Harley being cap geniuses all we want, but freeing up that type of cap space for a single player just isn’t going to happen. Especially on the offensive side of the ball where key playmakers like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara already have mega contracts.
Secondly, Juju is another example of a problem child who has proven he will put himself and his distractions above his team. Between his Tik Tok videos, dancing on opposing teams’ logos, and other media distractions, Juju just wouldn’t be a fit in the locker room or in Payton’s system.
Who do you think the Saints should avoid in free agency? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner.