We’ve already covered free agent wide receivers who the New Orleans Saints could target to replace the targets from Michael Thomas, but even after the signing of Chris Hogan, the Saints are still looking to address the receiver position as evidenced by their recent workout of Tommylee Lewis.
Considering the Saints are still trying to look for help on offense, and keeping in mind that Mickey Loomis recently said he still liked the Saints group of receivers even without Michael Thomas, let’s look at three potential options the Saints could look at to replace Thomas in the offense that aren’t wide receivers.
While we look at different wide receiver options who might be available, there’s a tendency to look over pass-catchers at other positions. Enter Zach Ertz.
Tight end Zach Ertz has made it clear that he wants to be traded from the Philadelphia Eagles. Although injuries derailed his 2020 season, Ertz has topped at least 800 receiving yards for the five seasons prior, hitting as high as 1,163 yards in 2018.
Ertz, age 31, is set to count a little over $12 million against the cap in 2021, but has a modest club option of only $3.5 million in 2022. It’s therefore conceivable the Saints could trade for Ertz and then extend him into at least the 2022 season, guaranteeing Ertz a bit more money over the course of the next two seasons and squeezing his cap hit under this year’s cap total. Considering the age and 2021 cap hit, a late round draft pick would probably be enough to get the deal done, so it might be worth considering moving a sixth round pick to bring in one of the best tight ends in the game.
Another tight end option could be Cleveland’s David Njoku.
Njoku finds himself lower in the pecking order in Cleveland after the Browns added tight end Austin Hooper last offseason and have a healthy, returning Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver. Hooper, Beckham, and Jarvis Landry would all be primary receiving options in the Cleveland offense, along with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who are above-average pass-catchers out of the backfield, so Njoku might be the odd man out.
Noku is in the final year of his rookie deal, counting only $6 million against the cap in 2021, so it might take a bit more to acquire him, but the Saints should definitely be interested if Njoku were available.
Free agent running back Duke Johnson is a player the Saints could add without having to trade anything away.
Johnson, 27 years old, has been one of the better receiving running backs in the NFL since he came into the league in 2015, with his best receiving season coming in 2017 when he caught 74 passes for almost 700 yards. Johnson has already discussed a desire to make a position switch to wide receiver, but adding Johnson to the mix would help allow Sean Payton and the Saints to use a combination of Johnson and Alvin Kamara as receiving threats both out of the backfield and lined up as a wide receiver.
A potential addition of Duke Johnson isn’t necessarily just about what Duke brings to the team on offense, but what his presence could do for Alvin Kamara’s ability to run more routes lined up as a receiver.
Do you like any of these potential options for the Saints this season? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel.