With the 2021 NFL Draft behind them, the New Orleans Saints should not settle with their current roster going into training camp. Here are two players they should look to deal before the start of the season.
Andrus Peat - OL
New Orleans signed Peat to a five-year, $57.5 million extension last march. He started 13 games for the Saints in 2020 on his way to a third consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Injuries have kept Peat off the field for a handful of games each season. He has only logged at least 90 percent of offensive snaps once. Peat has also failed to see the field for over 71 percent of plays in each of the past three seasons.
Despite three-straight Pro Bowl selections, Peat ranked second-to-last among the team in pressures allowed with 22 on 766 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. He also finished last in sacks allowed with four.
Since Peat was not traded following the third day of the 2021 league year (March 19, 2021), his $10.85 million base salary became guaranteed for 2022. He will carry salary cap hits of $11.6 million this season, $13.45 million in 2022, and $14.425 million in 2023 and 2024. Finding a trade partner will not be easy with such a hefty contract.
New Orleans should try to flip Peat for a cornerback, receiver or tight end. The Saints could deal him to Denver, who released starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James earlier this month after he suffered a torn Achilles away from the team facility.
Should Peat be dealt, New Orleans could move Erik McCoy to left guard and allow sophomore Cesar Ruiz to play his natural position at center. Nick Easton, who played just over half of the team’s offensive snaps, was released earlier this season, rookie Landon Young has the same guard-tackle versatility and could slot in at right guard if the re-signed Will Clapp isn’t ready for a full-time role.
Marcus Davenport - DE
New Orleans exercised Davenport’s fifth-year option near the end of April, fully-guaranteeing his $9.553 million salary for 2022. Injuries have derailed much of his on-field capabilities. Davenport has played 37 games and started 14 since entering the league.
Davenport’s 2019 season was the best of his young career. He recorded six sacks, three forced fumbles, five tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. Despite decent production when healthy, Davenport was acquired using two first round picks as well as a fifth-rounder. 14 starts in three seasons is not worth what the Saints gave up to draft him.
Davenport still has at least two more years in New Orleans to prove himself, barring a trade. The main key for him is to stay healthy, as various foot and elbow injuries have sidelined him throughout his career.
The Saints could afford to trade Davenport for extra help in the secondary or receiving departments. New Orleans selected Houston defensive end Payton Turner with the 28th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He recorded five sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss last season and could bolster the defensive line if Davenport is shipped.