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Free agents to watch in the NFC and AFC Championship games

Players with expiring contracts you should keep an eye on during this weekend's NFL Championship games.

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals
Jessie Bates is likely going to get paid this off-season
Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

For New Orleans Saints fans, it might be difficult to watch the upcoming AFC and NFC Championship games. Several players that were once on the Saints roster are integral parts of the final four NFL teams. Some of these players will be available in the upcoming free agency period. The Saints have never been shy at spending and with so many holes to fill, hopefully that trend continues. Many high-profile players will be looking for new deals next year. These are upcoming free agents from the NFC and AFC Championship games in the 2022 NFL season.

Free Agents to watch in the NFL Championships round

One thing that was glaringly obvious last season was the lack of running back depth on the Saints. Alvin Kamara has never been a workhorse back and the depth issues really hurt the team at times. There will be three running backs possibly on the market soon. For the Philadelphia Eagles, both Boston Scott and Miles Sanders will be free agents. Scott was actually drafted by the Saints in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was never really used on the roster before the Eagles signed him off of the Saints practice squad. A reunion might be unlikely though.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New York Jets
Ronald Jones will likely have fresh legs next season after playing very little this season
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Both Sanders and Scott have similar running styles as Kamara. Adding a downhill runner would be the Saints good and they could look at Samaje Perine. The Cincinnati Bengals running back has been a good compliment to Joe Mixon and would fit into the Saints rotation easily. Another bruising type runner likely looking for a new home soon is Ronald Jones. Jones is familiar to the NFC South after playing his first four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jones signed a one-year deal before the 2022 season but has not seen the field much for the Kansas City Chiefs. He will likely not play this weekend. Neither Perine’s nor Jones’ price tag will likely not be too much, making them possible targets this off-season.

Defensive players to watch

There are several high-profile players going into the market after this season on the defensive side of the ball. The position that should interest the Saints the most is Safety. Luckily, with just four teams remaining the Saints could have three options. Jimmie Ward will likely interest many teams this off-season should he choose to leave the San Francisco 49ers. Ward has spent his entire career with the Niners, starting 79 games. Another intriguing Safety will be the Bengals Jessie Bates. Bates has started every game he was available for the Bengals in his five-year career. Bates could very well fetch top dollar though, especially considering he has 100 or more tackles in three of his first five seasons. Former Saint Vonn Bell will also be looking for a new contract after this season, making a reunion possible.

AFC Divisional Playoffs - Jacksonville Jaguars v Kansas City Chiefs
Derrick Nnadi would add some depth and beef to the interior of the Saints defensive line
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

A position that the Saints will need to address this season is the defensive line. The line is thin and lacks playmakers. There will be two free agent defensive lineman playing this weekend, even though both are likely role players. This is fine though as the Saints need viable bodies in rotation. From the Kansas City Chiefs, Derrick Nnadi will likely be looking for a new home. Nnadi has played on the interior defensive line during his first five years with the Chiefs, starting 69 games. On the outside, Samson Ebukam from the 49ers will be a free agent as well. The former fourth-round pick has started 61 games in his six-year career, accumulating just 23.5 sacks in this time. Neither player will fetch top dollar, but the Saints need to get depth on the defensive line and both of these players could be worthy additions.

Waiting in the wings

Two intriguing upcoming free agents will likely not even see the field this weekend. These two quarterbacks will be hitting the market and will likely draw interest from around the league. For the Eagles, backup Gardner Minshew has flashed in limited action in his entire career. Should the Saints go after him in hopes he can put together a full season? Likewise, Jimmy Garoppolo will finish his contract with the 49ers this season. Garoppolo is thought to be a system quarterback but for needy teams he could be given a shot to prove himself. It will be an interesting off-season and currently it is one of the few things Saints fans can think about hopefully.

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles
Does Gardner Minshew deserve a shot at starting in the NFL? Might be worth a shot for the Saints.
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

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