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Saints 2021 free agent targets: AFC East edition

Free agents from each AFC East team that the Saints could target

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

We’re going through each division to see which players could potentially be targets for the New Orleans Saints in the upcoming free agency period.

This time, we’re on the AFC East.

New York Jets v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Bills: Trent Murphy

If you’re looking for a productive veteran whose market value probably won’t be as high as what he’s actually worth, look no further than Trent Murphy.

The reason I say that is because the 30-year-old who’s coming off of a three-year, $22.5 million contract had what would seem like a poor season last year. He only racked up 17 pressures and two sacks.

But the reality is he missed some time in the middle of the season, and when he plays the entire year, he’s typically pretty good.

In 2019, he played double the snap count of 2020 and produced 42 pressure and seven sacks, via PFF.

Since 2015, every season where he’s played at least 500 snaps (regular and postseason), he’s gotten at least 30 pressures.

This is the type of steady production a backup behind Marcus Davenport would ideally have for the Saints.

And considering his age and the season he’s coming off of, I’d assume that price tag from his last contract gets bumped down to an affordable mark for NOLA. Could be a nice value pick-up.

Patriots: Jermaine Eluemunor

New York Jets Vs. New England Patriots At Gillette Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

You probably haven’t heard of Eluemunor, so let me make the case for the Saints signing him.

The four-year veteran tackle is coming off a one-year, $2.1 million deal with the Pats where he finally got some extended playing time. And he made good use of this PT, with a solid season’s worth of pass protection film.

In 201 pass-blocking snaps, he only allowed seven hurries and one hit and had a PFF pass block grade of 70.3.

This was the first time he’d played over 200 snaps in his career, with 419 total, and the larger sample size showed his talent. That’s typically a good sign.

Eluemunor played multiple positions last season for the Pats. Thought to be more of a guard entering the year, he moved out to right tackle to start the year, then spent time at left tackle toward the end.

This type of versatility is so valuable to any team, and especially the Saints, who show so many different personnel packages and have a couple injury-prone starters on the line.

If Eluemunor is able to continue his positive play, he could be like a tackle version of Senio Kelemente for the Saints. And unless something unforeseen happens, I’d assume he’d still be a pretty cheap option with his lack of exposure.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins: Isaiah Ford

The Dolphins have had most of the guys I’d have wanted the Saints to consider signing re-sign already, but Isaiah Ford is a young, talented guy who could develop into a contributor.

Losing Emmanuel Sanders creates a bit of a hole in the slot, and spent over 65% of his time there last year.

On limited snaps due to injury, the Virginia Tech alum caught 28 balls for 276 yards in his third season.

He hasn’t gotten a ton of opportunities and has had a shaky QB room throwing him passes in his career, so it’d be nice to see what he did in a new environment.

He was prolific in college, with over 2,200 yards and 18 TDs in his last two seasons combined.

The fourth-year receiver was not tendered by the Fins, so he’ll be hitting the market at a relatively cheap cost. The Saints could get a bargain with a lot of talent with a Ford signing.

Jets: Breshad Perriman

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets

This would be too perfect of a fit, if Jameis Winston is to re-sign with the Saints.

Wisnton and Perriman shared a nice bond in 2019, as Perriman broke out with the best year of his career — 645 yards, six TDs, 17.9 YPC and one drop.

Then last year, he went to the New York Jets and fell off a bit. He posted worse numbers in just about every category you could think of, largely due to just being in a horrible offense with poor QB play.

But in 2019, he was the definition of a deep threat, leading qualifying NFL receivers in average depth targeted, at 18.78 yards.

From weeks 9-17 of 2019, Perriman piled up six receiving touchdowns (T-1st among qualifying receivers in that span) and 629 receiving yards (10th), on 19.1 yards per reception (4th). Most importantly, he did so while dropping a grand total of ZERO passes in that time period.

Not bad for the former first-rounder who’s been cut twice in his career.

It’s been rumored that Emmanuel Sanders has been included in trade rumors lately. While I wouldn’t love the idea of getting rid of a good receiver like Sanders, if they do, Perriman would be a decent replacement.

However, if they keep Sanders, the trio of Michael Thomas as the big-bodied no. 1 guy, Sanders as the shifty slot and Perriman as the deep threat would chef’s kiss for Winston’s receiving core.

And his mediocre statistical season in 2020 could drive his price down from the one-year, $6.5 deal he signed last year.


What do you think of these free agents? 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, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.