Not every player goes into the next football year with a future contract. Part of the business is proving yourself worthy of that next contract. For the New Orleans Saints, several contributors will be playing for a pay day this upcoming season. This can come from either an extension with the Saints or by going into free agency. This analysis will begin a series of articles looking at these New Orleans Saints players and how their contract situation might shake out in the upcoming 2021 NFL season.
Carl Granderson looking to improve on a successful 2020
The first New Orleans Saints player being examined is defensive end Carl Granderson. Granderson was originally signed to the Saints as an undrafted free agent. Contractual money for undrafted players is lower than those drafted. These undrafted players can propel themselves into their next contract with good play, though. Granderson signed a three year deal before the 2019 season, leaving 2021 as the last year of his rookie deal. Granderson will look to keep growing as a defensive end and hope to get the kind of deal others before him have gotten.
The most recent success story for Saints players is Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson was a third round pick but exploded on the scene in the 2020 season. His play vaulted year after year, concluding with 13.5 sacks in his final year with the Saints. Before the 2020 season, Hendrickson had only started three games while appearing in 30 games over the previous three seasons. Third round picks are usually thought of as contributors but it did take Hendrickson a while to prove himself. Hendrickson turned the 2020 season into a four-year $60 million contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the type of payday Carl Granderson would love to replicate after the 2021 season. Granderson will need to prove it, much like Hendrickson though.
Unlike early draft picks, undrafted free agent contracts are only for three years. It took Hendrickson four years to mature into the kind of player worthy of a large contract. Granderson will have to do it in less time. The good news for Granderson is that the snaps might be available with Hendrickson gone. Granderson will be asked to contribute much more this year. Contractually, this is exactly what a player would want. Long-term deals are usually the goal of many players and proving it on the field leads to these kind of deals. If Granderson takes another year to grow, he might find himself looking at a shorter-term deal.
The growth as a player has been there for Carl Granderson though. He only appeared in eight games over this rookie season, tallying only one sack and 11 tackles. Granderson played 115 snaps on the defensive side of the ball. Last year Granderson took a huge leap forward. He appeared in all but one game and played 291 snaps on defense. Granderson took advantage of these extra plays, tallying five sacks on the year. When asked by CSC’s own Christopher Dunnells what he needs to do to improve from last year, Granderson answered, “Get stronger. Get stronger in the weight room. Getting smarter. Continue watching film.” So it appears that Granderson knows what he needs to do to continue growing as a player in the 2021 season. This kind of leap in production can lead to a giant payday next off-season.
Will Carl Granderson be a Saint after the 2021 season?
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NFL players have a very short window to prove themselves. The second contract for any player can make up the majority of players career earnings. Carl Granderson is one of the Saints players pursuing a large contract in the 2021 season. He is part of a very deep defensive line rotation for the Saints, but almost every spot is open for the taking. If Granderson can continue to grow as he did last year, then he could get some of defensive end money that teams like to throw around every off-season.