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Why the Saints should sign Adrian Clayborn

He’s far from what he once was, but that’s OK.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints are not bringing back Trey Hendrickson for 2021.

He had a career year in this final year of his rookie contract, and the Saints are too cash-strapped and up against the salary cap to pay him anything close to market value, so kudos to the Cincinnati Bengals for pulling the trigger. All eyes will be on former first round pick Marcus Davenport and emerging undrafted free agent Carl Granderson to pick up some of the slack. But even still, the Saints will need rotational depth at the position.

Enter Adrian Clayborn.

Clayborn is far from a rookie, as he would be entering his age 33 season in 2021. (For reference, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan will be playing in his age 32 season this year.)

Clayborn fell off a bit of a cliff the past two seasons, after four straight seasons of at least 13 quarterback hits, he logged only 7 each of the past two years. Last year with the Browns, Clayborn registered only 3.5 sacks in 15 games. He’s admittedly far from the player he was five years ago with the Atlanta Falcons when he finished with 9.5 sacks on 17 quarterback hits with two forced fumbles. And the former Falcon is no stranger to the NFC South, as he was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has spent seven of his nine year career in the division.

But if the Saints could afford that type of player like Clayborn was with the Falcons, they would just keep Trey Hendrickson. That just isn’t an option because of the salary cap.

Even though Adrian Clayborn isn’t the player he once was, the hope would be that he wouldn’t have to be that caliber of player for the Saints. If Davenport and Granderson can each take steps forward, and Cam Jordan can experience a minor bounce-back after a rough start to 2020, then Clayborn just needs to be a decent depth piece who can come in to spell the starters during the game. And in bursts, Clayborn has shown he can still get to the quarterback when his team needs it.

He might not be a flashy signing. He might not be a game-changer. But the Saints can’t afford to pay for flashy game-changers at this point. The Saints have enough of those pieces anyway. The Saints need quality depth, and Adrian Clayborn can fit that role beautifully.

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