The New Orleans Saints will be bargain hunting all free agency unless or until (and then possibly still after) they are able to nail down long-term extensions with players like Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, and Marcus Williams. That means they are unlikely to make flashy free agent signings to fill holes left from departing players while they’re still tight up against the salary cap.
But coupon-cutting and bargain-hunting can be fun, and there might still be diamonds in the rough if you’re willing to take a chance on a lottery ticket. Here are three potential names the Saints could look for to be that kind of lottery ticket to replace the departed Trey Hendrickson.
We’ve already covered Clayborn a bit here, but the bottom line is: He’s more of a big name than big producer at this point, but he could still be a valuable rotational piece that Saints fans should remember from his time as an Atlanta Falcon.
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.
Speaking of names Saints fans might remember, what about former New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Okafor?
Okafor, three years younger than Adrian Clayborn, appeared in only 11 games last year with the Kansas City Chiefs, and 10 games the season before that. Still, even in only 11 games last year with the Chiefs, he logged more quarterback hits (10) than he did in 2018 in 16 games with the New Orleans Saints (9). The 2018 season was the only time he’s hit that the 16-game mark in his 8-year career, but if simply used as a rotational piece, maybe he play a full season.
He’s won his Super Bowl with the Chiefs in 2019, so now we can bring him back to the Saints to win another.
Finally, another name the more astute Saints fan might recognize. Al-Quadin Muhammad was a sixth round draft pick by the Saints in 2017. Muhammad was claimed off waivers by the Indianapolis Colts prior to the 2018 season and was on the active roster the past two seasons. Muhammad’s time in Indianapolis was generally underwhelming, but at only 26 years old, there’s still plenty of room for projectability. In fact, it was only in Trey Hendrickson’s age 26 season last year that he finally broke out as a pass rusher. Maybe you could find the same thing in Muhammad at a significantly cheaper price tag.
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