With the new league year right around the corner, free agency is coming right behind. Today, Aaron Rodgers returned to Green Bay on a massive deal and Russell Wilson got traded to the Broncos in a deal that benefits both teams.
Now, with both targets off the board for New Orleans, where do the Saints turn in free agency? Here are five names to look out for this offseason.
Jameis Winston, QB
I know this feels like a cheap answer, but it's true. Now with Rodgers and Wilson off the table, the New Orleans Saints need to tie up somebody a quarterback, because Taysom Hill and Ian Book won’t set you up for the future. Now, I understand the injury concerns with Winston coming off the ACL injury, but he seems to be recovering well and because of the injury, you could sign him to a cap-friendly deal that benefits both parties. Betting odds are currently at +225 for Winston to be the Saints QB, and I’d take that any day of the week.
Tyrann Mathieu, SS
Will the Honey-Badger return to his hometown? Some seem to think so. (You can check out our guy Brenden Ertle’s piece on Mathieu here)
However, with Marcus Williams’ future in New Orleans at jeopardy, Tyrann Mathieu definitely seems to fit the bill as his replacement. He’s still below 30 and coming off another great season. Also, staying fairly healthy throughout his career, it's safe to say he could play another 3-5 years before retirement. Now, the contract wouldn’t be cap-friendly, but like Ertle mentioned, it would be much cheaper than re-signing Williams. Things could get very intriguing at the safety spot with Williams’ tag deadline with the Saints being today (March 8).
Brandon Scherff, G
Scherff is a solid option on the offensive line, and with the imminent departure of Terron Armstead, the Saints could use some help up front. Not to mention Cesar Ruiz and Andrus Peat have underperformed throughout their careers in New Orleans (poor Peat can’t stay healthy either). Scherff is 30, which makes him a very experienced veteran who still has time left in his career. Plus, having made $45 million over the last three years, this feels like a deal where the Saints get a talented replacement and save money in the process (Armstead is looking for a 3-year, $60 million deal).
Odell Beckham Jr, WR
I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably sitting there going “Now, come on Matt, that’s not going to happen”.
And you’re probably right. But one can dream, right?
Beckham is from New Orleans, went to LSU, and has always loved this area even in his pro career. This past year, he finally won a Super Bowl and will probably be one of the members of the mass exodus the Rams are about to undertake. Now that he’s covered everything major milestone on his resume, wouldn’t you think Odell could come home, be the #2 option with Michael Thomas, and be a top receiver in the league? Seems like a good move for him. Plus, the Saints could probably sign him to a multi-year deal with a heavy back-end to help the cap issue for now. This is the move to look out for, in my opinion.
Michael Gallup, WR
The reason I’m placing two WR’s in this list is because New Orleans is desperate at this position. Sure, Michael Thomas comes back this year which is massive news. However, there’s no solid #2. Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith, Lil’ Jordan Humphrey are good weapons, but don’t seem ready to line up across the field from 13. Michael Gallup is a good, young receiver with breakout speed and reliable hands, which fits right into Pete Carmichael’s system (slant routes, short passes, etc.) Also, his contract could be pretty friendly for Mickey Loomis and company.
The Saints have plenty of decisions to make in the offseason, and with the cap issue hanging over their head, it could be pretty difficult to accomplish the goals. However, I think New Orleans will fill the gaps they have, draft well, and be in good shape going into September.