After losing Trey Hendrickson in free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Saints were going to be in need of someone (or multiple someones) to pick up the snaps on defense. Players like Marcus Davenport and Carl Granderson would hopefully take on that role primarily, but now Kpassagnon can enter the fold as well.
Kpassagnon is a big boy, at 6’7 and 289 lbs, and he could be a rotational piece that could both play on the defensive end on running downs and possible shift to the interior of the defensive line in passing situations. He ran a 4.8 40-yard-dash time in the 2017 combine.
Big shift from 2019 to 2020 was defensive side from which he took his snaps. Per PFF:— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) March 29, 2021
2019: 839 total snaps, 426 from the right edge.
2020: 811 total snaps, 474 from the left edge.
Played a few snaps on the interior here and there as well both seasons. https://t.co/T9scS5KTXL
Kpassagnon is a former second round pick from 2017 who has played 32 games (starting 23) the past two seasons, but has only tallied 5 sacks and 8 tackles for loss. At only 27-years-old, he still hasn’t necessarily reached his full potential, as he flashed during the 2020 AFC Championship Game with two sacks.
That 2019 season was his best, when he totaled 2 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble, 30 tackles, 11 quarterback hits, and 4 sacks.
Per Pro Football Focus, Kpassagnon was given a 55.4 grade in 2020 over the course of 720 defensive snaps. He’s also played well on special teams, with multiple blocked kicks in his career (think former Saints defensive lineman Margus Hunt).
Overall, this move is consistent with the team’s apparent strategy of addressing each of the positions of need in free agency, if only in the form of a depth signing, so the team can enter the 2021 NFL Draft without being forced to draft at a particular position.
Updated March 29 at 11:30 AM:
The contract terms of Tanoh Kpassagnon’s deal have been released. Despite the two-year deal agreed upon, the Saints do their usual cap magic and add three voidable years to the contract to spread the signing bonus out over five seasons.
Tanoh Kpassagnon (Saints) five years, three void automatically 10 days prior to 2023 lg yr, $4.5M, $2M gtd, $500K signing bonus, salaries $1M (gtd), $2.5M; $500K 2022 roster bonus, $750K sacks 2022 roster bonus escalator— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 29, 2021
Upon further inspection, this contract could easily turn into a one-year $1.5M deal as the Saints have a potential out after the 2021 year leading to only $500K in dead money. For Kpassagnon, this is a great prove-it scenario to play up to his second-round pick potential with one of the NFL’s best defensive line coaches.
If he stays on the roster in 2022, his salary takes a nice bump and includes an escalator for sack numbers as well. The deal will void before the 2023 season is under way, giving the Saints an opportunity to move on or re-sign based on production.
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