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NFL Championship weekend players to watch

Upcoming free agents from the NFC and AFC Championship games that the Saints could target this off-season.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones is likely to sign a massive deal this off-season, but can the Saints afford him?
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The NFL playoffs are once again wrapping up without the New Orleans Saints involved. With just four teams remaining, rooting interest tends to be for various reasons but not fandom. Certain players are beloved, like George Kittle, while others are very polarizing, like the recent villain-arc of Patrick Mahomes. For fandoms and those around a team who are already onto next season, certain players can be a great source of intrigue while watching the rest of the playoff games. Player turnover is very common in the NFL and these last four teams certainly have their share of potential free agents for the Saints in this upcoming off-season. These are some upcoming free agent players to watch in the NFL Championship weekend of the 2023 season.

Free agents to watch after the 2023 season

One thing that the Saints will have to address this off-season is both of their lines. The rush defense was the worst it has been in several years this past season but expect Dennis Allen to try and fix this issue. The San Francisco 49ers will have a couple of players potentially exiting in free agency that play around the defensive line. Javon Kinlaw is a traditional defensive tackle who will likely be available. In the AFC Championship game, there will be several defensive tackles to watch. For the Baltimore Ravens, Justin Madubuike is headed to free agency. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs could lose two starters on their defensive line. Both Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi are free agents when this season ends. Any of these players could reinforce the Saints defensive line.

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers
Chase Young would look great in black and gold next season.
Photo by Ryan Kang/Getty Images

The defensive pass rush for the Saints also needs an upgrade. In the entire season, only three teams had fewer sacks than the Saints. This unit desperately needs some help, potentially from the following players. From the Niners, Randy Gregory and Chase Young are likely to test the market this off-season. It will be interesting watching them play against a good Detroit Lions offensive line in the NFC Championship game. As far as the Lions pass rushers, Romeo Okwara is set to be a free agent as well. With the play of teammate Aidan Hutchinson, Okwara is likely to be looking for more playing time outside of Detroit next season.

Offensive line help

The poor play of the Saints offensive line, and the lack of depth, were huge topics of contention throughout this past season. Luckily for the Saints, several players from this weekend’s game will be available after the season. The 49ers are likely to let Matt Pryor test the market even though he can play nearly any position on the line. As for the Lions, they have at least four offensive lineman who might be available after the season. Two of these players are currently on the injured reserve list, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Matt Nelson. Playing in the game will be Jonah Jackson and Graham Glasgow. This is both of the Lions guards, which is the biggest need for the Saints offensive line.

Baltimore Ravens v San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Zeitler has been a consistent and trustworthy player throughout his career.
Photo by Robin Alam/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Potential free agents on the offensive line do not end there. In the AFC game, both the Ravens and Chiefs are set to lose players from their offensive line. For the Ravens, starting right guard Kevin Zeitler is at the end of his current contract. If the 33-year-old elects to play another season, he is still playing well enough to bolster the Saints unit. As far as the Chiefs unit, they are set to use swing-man Nick Allegretti from their line. Allegretti plays multiple positions whenever called upon while also playing special teams. Allegretti is the type of player most teams love to keep on the roster for their ability to fill-in as needed. Any of these veteran offensive linemen could be brought in to bolster the Saints offense immediately.