Young, unproven starters and aging NFL veterans have now flooded the free agency market after NFL rosters were forced to trim down to 53 men a piece. The New Orleans Saints have been hit with recent news that could force the team to look at some of the various options available to them now, so here are four names they should consider.
TE O.J. Howard
How long has O.J. Howard been in the league? I feel like I’ve been reading articles hyping the 6’6 242 lbs. Alabama product for a decade now.
Howard has never really seemed to live up to the massive hype and potential his frame would suggest since getting drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He never “clicked” with quarterback Jameis Winston while in Tampa Bay, and the addition of Rob Gronkowski only pushed Howard further down the depth chart.
After signing with the Buffalo Bills this offseason, Howard was cut by the team on August 30th, leaving room for a tight end-needy team like the New Orleans Saints to swoop in and sign the 27-year-old veteran. With Adam Trautman the only known and semi-proven pass-catching tight end on the roster (Juwan Johnson and Taysom Hill are both projects at the position and Nick Vannett is primarily used for blocking), a receiving threat like Howard could give Winston another weapon and a chance to “click” in the new New Orleans offense.
S Jaquiski Tartt or Anthony Harris
After potentially losing Marcus Maye to an inevitable suspension and trading C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Eagles’ castaways Tartt and Harris are now free agents. Jaquiski Tartt and Anthony Harris both have experience at both safety positions - the type of versatility Saints’ head coach Dennis Allen covets - and while neither has the highest of NFL ceilings, their is seemingly higher than a player like Daniel Sorensen.
Mathieu, Maye, and P.J. Williams could all move around the secondary in either the free safety or strong safety roles, but the removal of Gardner-Johnson likely means one of those three (or CB Bradley Roby) will have to fill in in the slot. Adding a player like Tartt or Harris helps the Saints retain some of the depth they previously lost, even if that means signing the table scraps left over from the Philadelphia Eagles.
T Eric Fisher
When Terron Armstead departed in free agency, the Saints were going to be forced to rely on veteran James Hurst to fill the void. While the Saints were generally willing to hand the reigns over to Hurst, they still went out and drafted Trevor Penning in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft as a long-term left tackle of the future. This would then allow Penning to take his time and develop as a long-term starter in the NFL while also giving the Saints the opportunity to play the better of the two options at any given moment.
Now that Penning is set to miss most, if not all, of the 2022 NFL season, the Saints have lost that depth on the offensive line. Adding a former number one overall pick like Eric Fisher could be just the insurance the Saints need in case Hurst were to struggle. Obviously the Saints hope Hurst played without any hiccups as a full-time starter, but if he were to be a liability on the line, the Saints don’t really have any other starting options they would feel comfortable with if needed.