Part four of the contract series continues with another defensive linemen looking to make a splash in 2021. Like all other players on this list, Shy Tuttle is looking to prove he is worth a long-term extension with the New Orleans Saints. Snaps will likely not be the issue this upcoming season with the Saints having very little at the defensive tackle position. Tuttle is another undrafted free agent find by the Saints who has returned value so far. With opportunities and stats going up, Shy Tuttle is competing for an extension during or after the 2021 season.
Shy Tuttle competing for extension in 2021
The New Orleans Saints’ thinnest position going into 2021 is most likely at defensive tackle. Both Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins left the Saints this offseason in free agency. Brown signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Rankins with the New York Jets.
During his two years with the Saints, Brown started 29 regular season games. He played 46% and 33% of the defensive snaps in the Saints rotation for a combined 832.
Rankins only started one game the past two years but did have a 30% and 40% snap share for a 737 snap total. There are a lot of snaps that the Saints did not replace in the draft nor free agency.
The only two defensive tackles with experience on the Saints roster besides Shy Tuttle are David Onyemata and Malcolm Roach. The Saints run mostly a four-man defensive front. Onyemata started 15 games the past two years at the left defensive tackle position. It is likely he holds on to this position in 2021. Brown started almost every game at the right position. So that begs the question, who will take over that right position next season?
The main competition will be between the aforementioned Roach and Tuttle along with several guys with little to no NFL experience. Shy Tuttle will compete with Malcolm Roach for that other starting position most likely. In addition, Tuttle is also fighting for a contract.
Will Shy Tuttle contribute to the Saints in 2021?
This poll is closed
Shy Tuttle’s career so far
Shy Tuttle goes into 2021 with very few starts. Although, he did get more in 2020 than he did in his 2019 rookie season. Even with the extra starts, Tuttle’s snap count held steady at around 31%. Tuttle played in three less games in 2020 but accounted for 10 more total tackles than 2019. Interior defensive lineman do not normally have large sack numbers since their main job is to run stuff and disrupt the offensive line scheme. Tuttle had two sacks in his rookie season but none in 2020, even with the same amount of quarterback hurries credited to him.
There is no shame in being stuck behind Malcom Brown and Sheldon Rankins the past two seasons for Tuttle. Brown is a perennial veteran who has proven his worth over his many years for winning NFL teams. The Saints drafted Rankins with the 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft. The organization had to see what Rankins could accomplish the past two seasons for the same reason they have to see what Tuttle has this year. Rankins was playing for a contract and the Saints had to see what the former first-round pick could provide. It should not be held against an undrafted signee like Tuttle that he had to sit behind more experienced and higher paid players.
The unknown and outlook
Malcolm Roach only appeared in nine games and had a 22% snap share in 2020. It is likely he retains this kind of role in 2021. The unknown aspect of the right defensive tackle spot might come down to one of several undrafted free agents. Josiah Bronson is a 300 pound defensive tackle out of Washington who could make this year’s roster. The Saints signed Lorenzo Neal Jr. and Jalen Dalton returns after an injury cost him his 2020 rookie season, both undrafted players. Ryan Glasgow has been on and off the Saints practice squad since last season and could fight for time as well. Albert Huggins is also on the team but will likely be used anytime the Saints go with a three-man front instead of their traditional four if he can make the squad.
Roach, Tuttle, and the host of these other players will have the opportunity at the right tackle position. Tuttle has the potential to take big steps since he is the most experienced of any of these players. The opinion of this writer though is that Shy Tuttle deserves a lifelong contract with the New Orleans Saints.
Tuttle earned this honor with his famous interception and stiff-arming of Matt Ryan in a game against the rival Atlanta Falcons. If memories were factored into contracts, then Tuttle surely has the advantage going into the 2021 season.