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2023 Player Review: Pete Werner

Werner is in his 3rd season with New Orleans.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2023 season, Pete Werner was one of the young players on this New Orleans Saints defense that was supposed to breakout, but that didn’t quite happen in Werner’s third season.

Through his first two seasons, Werner was a very promising young linebacker. In his first 27 games in the league, Werner posted 142 tackles, two forced fumbles, one interception and three pass break ups.

His snap counts had improved each of his first two season, going from 394 in 2021 to 596 in 2022. He and Demario Davis were set to headline a Saints defense that was projected to be one of the best in the league.

Werner’s third year started off pretty strong against the Tennessee Titans. He finished the game with eight tackles, his first career sack, four stops and allowed just one catch for four yards. He’d follow that game up with another solid seven tackle performance, but after that, his season started going a bit downhill.

For the remainder of the season, Werner would have just two games where he posted a 70+ defensive PFF grade, and in only five of those games did he grade above a 60.

Now, I know PFF grades don’t tell the entire story, but Werner had his fair share of struggles. He finished the season with 93 tackles but missed 10 tackles (8.9%) while also allowing 50 of his 60 targets to be caught for 470 yards (9.7 average).

He also finished the season allowing 30+ receiving yards in seven of the Saints final nine games. During that span, he also missed 12 tackles while making 52 (23% miss rate).

He finished the season with career low grades in overall defensive grade (57.5), pass rush (52.0) and coverage (47.6). His 47.6 coverage grade was the worst on the team by anyone who played over 10 snaps. His 52.0 pass rush grade was also the lowest of anyone on the team not named Paulson Adebo and Alontae Taylor (who are both cornerbacks). And his defensive grade of 57.5 was the fifth lowest of any defender with over 100 snaps.

I do like Pete Werner and think he can become a very good linebacker in this league, but he just flat out did not have a good season in 2023. Something is going to have to change in 2024. His contract expires at the end of next season, so he’s going to have to prove himself to the Saints front office/other teams around the league if he’s looking to land a big contract.

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