The New Orleans Saints defense was the shining beacon of hope for the 2021 NFL Season. While the offense struggled at times, the defense helped the Saints get to nine wins on the year. This is remarkable due to the fact that the Saints had more players start a game than any other team in NFL history. At the top end, the Saints could compete with any team in the league. The issue was when these top players would miss games due to injury or virus protocols. The defense held teams like the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers under 10 points at times last year. This defense also allowed teams like the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles to score over 25 points in losses. The added depth on the defensive line should help the Saints contend every week next season.
Saints Defensive Line Reloaded With Free Agency
Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, and David Onyemata are the clear leaders on the Saints defense’s line rotation. If these players missed any time, or were game-planned out of games, then the Saints defense struggled at times last year. The team sought to rectify the shallow line this free agency with three solid signings. Kentavius Street is a solid pass-rusher who will be able to rush the passer opposite Davenport and Jordan. Jaleel Johnson is a mammoth of a man at nearly 320 pounds and will likely fill in the interior of the line. Taco Charlton is the newest free agent signee for the Saints. Charlton has never lived up to his first-round draft pick status, but he has been a solid player in the NFL in his five seasons. Charlton has been quite the journeyman so far in his career, playing on four different teams before arriving in New Orleans. All three of these players signed one-year deals and will use a deep defensive line rotation and fresh legs to fight for longer-term deals.
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The Saints defensive line will likely get more contribution from those who were on the team last year as well. Payton Turner should contribute more going into this second year in the NFL. After only playing five games last year, Turner will hopefully be able to stay healthy for the upcoming season. Turner was drafted in the first round of the 2020 draft, so expectations are surely high for the former Houston Cougars star. Likewise, Tanoh Kpassagnon will look to maintain his health this upcoming season. In his previous four seasons, Kpassagnon never played less than 13 games in a season until last year, appearing in just eight. Malcolm Roach is another depth player who has played well in limited action for the Saints. Roach appeared in just seven games last season after being signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft.
Saints Defense Likely Dangerous Again
With so many questions on the offensive side of the ball, the Saints defense will likely be the key to wins in the upcoming season. Several of last year’s losses can be directly attributed to the Saints lack of depth. Hopefully, all virus-related issues will also be gone by the beginning of the year as well. The Saints were a shallow team last year, but this year’s free agency period has helped the defense, especially on the defensive line. If the new signees can play meaningful time in the Saints rotation, expect one of the top defenses in the league to be even better in 2022.