The New Orleans Saints are sitting at home, watching the NFL Playoffs like the rest of us. During this time, it might be helpful to see some of the players the Saints could target at the end of the season. There are just eight teams left in this year’s playoffs, but there are plenty of players that will likely be moving teams next year. With the Saints having needs at several positions to address, these are some AFC players that the Saints front office could target following the end of the NFL season.
Saints positions of need in Free Agency
This off-season, the Saints must address a few glaring issues with the team. On defense, this is likely the shallow defensive line. On offense though, the Saints have many more issues. Quarterback will likely be the most discussed position, but the Saints need playmakers and contributors in several other areas. The offensive line could be an issue, with Terron Armstead set to enter free agency. Tight end and wide receiver are also glaring weaknesses for the Saints offense. The Saints do own six picks in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft, so expect some building with young talent; however, the Saints have never shied away from free agency. Expect some moves to be made to help the team immediately.
What is the biggest position of need this off-season?
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AFC Players to Watch in the NFL Playoffs
The tight end position is a big need for the Saints. Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson were not able to step up enough for the Saints offense. Both struggled mightily during the season. Do not be surprised if Sean Payton adds a tight end somehow this off-season, as it is an important position in the Saints offense. Two players that will be available are C.J. Uzomah from the Cincinnati Bengals and Blake Bell from the Kansas City Chiefs. Both of these players have flashed at times for their respective teams. Bell has been buried on the depth chart behind perennial All-Pro Travis Kelce but could flourish with opportunity. The Bengals, meanwhile, are loaded at pass-catcher. Uzomah could be a salary cap casualty for the Bengals, leaving him to pursue a contract elsewhere. The Saints could use either of these players immediately.
The defensive line is another position needing to be addressed. At the top end, the Saints have emerging and great players. Outside of these anchors, like Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, the Saints need to add depth. Two names coming available this off-season will be Vernon Butler from the Buffalo Bills and Larry Ogunjobi from the Bengals. Ogunjobi is coming off his best season as a pass-rusher, tallying seven sacks on the year. It is likely that Ogunjobi could fetch a big contract after this season, but the Saints could be in the market. Meanwhile, Butler has been disappointing after being taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. In his six-year career, Butler has started just 19 total games. He will likely be looking for a fresh start, and the Mississippi native might look at coming home.
The Saints could also go after some depth for the offensive line. Ben Jones, Center, from the Tennessee Titans, will be going into free agency this year. Jones started every game for the Titans in the 2021 season. Cesar Ruiz and Erik McCoy are the current centers on the team but adding Jones could help with depth or rotating positions. If Jones plays center, that could free up Ruiz and McCoy to play guard. Jones also began his career at guard. Sean Payton and the Saints front office have never been shy about adding offensive linemen, so Jones could be in play this off-season.
There is also Eli Apple. Just kidding.