It’s a name that should be familiar to most fans of the New Orleans Saints, but the Saints should consider re-signing our old pal Senio Kelemete.
Senio was recently released by the Houston Texans in a cap-saving move, as the release helped the cap-strapped Texans gain an additional $1.5 million in savings for the 2021 offseason:
The #Texans are releasing versatile veteran OL Senio Kelemete today, per the wire, creating about $1.5M in cap space. The 30-year-old has started 42 games in his career. They also released LB Peter Kalambayi.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 23, 2021
After a single, uninspiring year with the Arizona Cardinals, the former fifth-round spent the next four seasons (2013-2017) with the Saints. Kelemete played in mostly a reserve role, but was pressed into duty more often the last two years with the Saints due to injuries to players like Andrus Peat and Terron Armstead missing time. During his time as a spot-starter, Kelemete played snaps at both tackle and guard positions, as well as playing on both the left and right sides of the offseason line.
Once he showcased both his versatility and what he could do as a starter, Kelemete signed a three-year contract with the Houston Texans in the 2018 offseason to become the Texans’s starting left guard. Kelemete struggled as a starter, and was part of the reason Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sacked so often the past few seasons. Just watch this man-handling by the Saints’ Marcus Davenport:
But frankly, the Saints have been searching for a player like Senio ever since Senio signed with the Houston Texans. A player who can fill in across the entire offensive line, who might not be able to be a 16-game starter, but can provide enough protection in short bursts as needed, is still incredibly valuable in today’s NFL.
The Saints expected Nick Easton to fill that role, but with lingering concussions and a significant cap hit in 2021, Easton’s release was inevitable. It’s definitely possible the Saints choose to reunite with Easton - who is two years younger than Kelemete - instead of bringing back the former Texan, but Kelemete wouldn’t present nearly the same injury risks. On top of that, unlike other free agents, Senio is already familiar with the organization, some of the players, and Sean Payton’s blocking scheme. If the price is right, the fit makes all of the sense in the world.
Senio could come in to provide insurance to players like Andrus Peat, Cesar Ruiz, and Terron Armstead, and shouldn’t be an expensive piece that handicaps the Saints payroll situation in the team’s hunt to bargain-hunt elsewhere on the roster.
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