Yet again, the Saints biggest needs are on the defensive side of the ball. Contrary to popular belief, since the Saints lead the league in pass yards allowed per game (273.8), the issue isn’t with the secondary, it’s actually with the front seven. The Saints ranked near the bottom of the league with QB sacks again, while getting pedestrian play from the linebacker positions. The biggest offseason needs for the Saints ranks below:
Defensive End/Edge Rusher
- However, with the franchise tagging of Chandler Jones, JPP, Melvin Gordon, and Trumaine Johnson, I don’t feel the Saints should spend big money on the defensive side this free agency. With a projected cap space of around $30 million, the Saints can afford to make some moves. Drew Brees is in the twilight of his career and there has been talk of a drafting a potential successor so it’s in the Saints best interest to keep them protected, they can do this by signing OGs Ronald Leary, Larry Warford, or both. While I don’t believe teams should spend huge amounts of money on guards, it’s important to keep Brees and a young QB upright and we’ve seen what some young QBs can do behind a line that protects them (think Dak Prescott or Carson Wentz before Lane Johnson suspension).
- The Saints can then pursue a defensive need. While I would love to see them sign players like AJ Bouye, Dont’a Hightower, Stephon Gilmore, these guys will cost upwards of $10 million per year. As a Rutgers Alumni, I’m hoping they can sign Logan Ryan but only if its a reasonable deal. But I would really like to see the Saints sign ILB Gerald Hodges. He’s a young at 26 and a solid player against the run and in coverage and with youth on his side there there is plenty of room for improvement. I think he can he signed cheaply as well, maybe something similar to the 3 year/$5 million deal Craig Robertson got some the Saints last offseason.
- Resign Sterling Moore played well towards the end of the season. You can never have too much CB depth and Moore will come cheap.
Free Agency Conclusion:
Sign Ronald Leary, Larry Warford, or both
Sign Gerald Hodges
Resign Sterling Moore
The Draft: Trades
- So far you must think I’m crazy, not addressing the defense more with as much cap space as the Saints had but hear me out.. As I’m writing this there are rumors of Brandin Cooks getting traded for a first rounder with the Titans and Eagles being the highest suitors. While I love Cooks, the emergence of Michael Thomas makes him more expendable. I believe the Saints should trade away Cooks to the Titans for 18th overall.
- With the acquisition of an additional first round pick the Saints could then trade their third round pick to the Jets to acquire Sheldon Richardson. The Saints run a base 4-3 scheme, and while Richardson’s skill set is more 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT I think he would fit well opposite Cameron Jordan as the other 4-3 DE or inside next to Sheldon Rankins. With Hau’oli Kikaha coming back from a torn ACL the Saints can have Richardson stay at DT if they want and have Kikaha play the five-technique even though I believe Richardson to be athletic enough to make the adjustment to 4-3 DE. Trading for Richardson will be expensive, however, considering he is on his fifth year team option but I believe his value to be similar or just a bit more expensive than Nick Fairley who is three years older and offers similar production.
The Draft (Trades) Conclusion:
Trade Brandin Cooks for a 2017 first round pick
Trade 2017 third round pick to Jets for Sheldon Richardson
The Draft (Selections [based on Saints trading Cooks for 18th overall])
First Round (11th Overall) - Select Reuben Foster - LB Alabama
First Round (18th Overall) - Select Adoree’ Jackson - CB/WR/KR USC
Second Round (42nd Overall) - Best Available Player CB/G
Third Round - (76th Overall) Traded to Jets for Sheldon Richardson (see above)
Fourth Round (118th Overall) - Davis Webb - QB Cal
Sixth Round (196th Overall) - BPA DE
Seventh Round (229th Overall) - BPA LB
- Reuben Foster is obvious, the Saints need playmaking ability from the LB position and drafting Foster gives them that. Paired with Gerald Hodges, gives DC Dennis Allen two every-down LB’s.
- Adoree’ Jackson may be a bit of a head scratcher but as I mentioned earlier, the defensive issues aren’t nearly as bad in the secondary which was battling injuries all season. Getting Delvin Breaux and PJ Williams back from injury will improve the coverage. Adding a playmaker like Jackson will certain help the defense but his versatility will do wonders in every facet of the game. The Saints struggled with the return game all of last season and Jackson can provide big playmaking ability and also has experience on the offensive side of the ball as well so Sean Payton may have some plays carved out for him.
- Teams can never have too much CB or interior lineman depth. In the second round I personally like CB’s Tre’Davious White, Quincy Wilson, and Desmond King. For Guards I like Dan Freeny and Taylor Morton.
- I read Charlie’s mock of Davis Webb to the Saints in the fourth round and liked it so keeping that.
- BPA DE and LB for round six and seven to keep improving the defense.
P.S. Additional Moves:Trade Coby Fleener for literally anything