When I ranked the four biggest positions of need for the New Orleans Saints post-Draft, it might have come as a surprise to many that defensive tackle came out as the second-biggest issue for the 2021 Saints team to address.
But the losses of Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins cannot be ignored. The Saints have addressed the loss of Trey Hendrickson by signing Tanoh Kpassagnon and by drafting Payton Turner in the 1st Round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the hole at defensive tackle hasn’t been given similar attention.
This is why we named defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson as one of the five potential free agents the Saints could still sign before the season. With this in mind, this is likely why Bill Barnwell for ESPN predicted the Saints to sign Richardson (Insider required) to a one-year deal:
Prediction: signs one-year, $6 million deal with the New Orleans Saints
The Browns turned over both of their starting defensive tackles this offseason by letting Larry Ogunjobi leave and cutting Richardson. The latter move came after the Browns signed Jadeveon Clowney, and while the organization suggested that it would like to bring Richardson back, that reunion has yet to transpire.
Richardson can be a valuable three-down defensive tackle, which is something the Saints could use after losing Sheldon Rankins this offseason. It would obviously involve voidable years, but Richardson would slot in as the starter next to David Onyemata and allow Shy Tuttle to stay in a situational role.
It’s hard to fault the logic, but even hard to find the money to make it happen. Even after June 1st, the Saints will be hard-pressed to find cap space to make many moves.
This will give the Saints about $300k in additional cap space since Brees’ salary will be replaced by someone else in the top 51 cap costs that count against the cap in the offseason. https://t.co/fj2aMCnlPo— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) May 24, 2021
For those wondering, there were other interesting names in Barnwell’s piece for ESPN. Two other defensive tackles are name, Kawann Short and Geno Atkins, with the former predicted to sign with the Buffalo Bills and the latter to sign with the Minnesota Vikings.
Two cornerbacks were also named, Steven Nelson and Richard Sherman. Nelson was predicted to sign a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals and Sherman was predicted to return to San Francisco on a one-year deal. Other names of interest for the Saints were linebacker KJ Wright (projected to the Los Angeles Rams) and wide receiver Golden Tate, who signed with the Tennessee Titans on a one-year, $1.1 million dollar deal in Barnwell’s piece.