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Saints DT Kentavius Street Can Become a Major Free-Agent Bargain

An under the radar offseason signing, Kentavius Street looks to become the latest free-agent steal for the Saints.
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The New Orleans Saints have had an active offseason. In January, they withstood a bombshell when coach Sean Payton surprisingly announced his retirement after 16 years with the team. New Orleans then lost Pro Bowl LT Terron Armstead and rangy S Marcus Williams in free agency. Veteran leader Malcolm Jenkins also retired after 13 seasons.

Despite those hits, the Saints were successful in addressing several team needs. First-round picks WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning expects to have immediate impacts. Top free agents were added in the way of safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu, while the receiving corps got another boost with the signing of Jarvis Landry.

Over the last few years, the Saints have successfully added free agents who weren't viewed as top-rated additions. All-Pro LB Demario Davis, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, and G/T James Hurst have made major contributions despite being overlooked in some circles.

The signings of Maye, Mathieu, and Landry caught the attention of most fans and national media. However, the Saints also added a defensive lineman that could be an underrated key to one of the league's best units.


6’2” 287-Lbs.

Denver quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks to pass as 49ers DE Kentavius Street (95) rushes. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY

Denver quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks to pass as 49ers DE Kentavius Street (95) rushes. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY

Street was a three-year starter at N.C. State, playing both inside and outside. He gathered 15.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks in his final two seasons with the Wolfpack. Tearing an ACL at his Pro Day caused his draft stock to slip. The San Francisco 49ers finally selected him in the 4th Round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Street's knee injury cost him his entire rookie season and hampered him through much of 2019 training camp. The 49ers placed him back on injured reserve to start that season. He'd finally see his first NFL action in Week 14 of the 2019 season. He appeared in the last three regular-season games as a reserve but was placed back on IR for the playoffs.

Finally healthy in 2020, Street appeared in 15 games for a deep 49er defensive front. He played in 40% of the team's defensive snaps but recorded just one tackle for loss and 11 total stops.

Street played in every contest last season, including all three postseason games. He notched three sacks and added 18 QB pressures and six tackles for loss among 27 total stops. Street was a restricted free agent entering the offseason but was not tendered a contract offer from San Francisco.

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New Orleans signed the 26-year-old Street to a one-year deal. He’ll count just $1.27 million against the team's salary cap in 2022. Street goes from a deep defensive line in San Francisco to a Saints front that is at least its equal in talent and depth.

One of the few weaknesses on an elite New Orleans defense in 2021 was their lack of interior pressure. Defensive tackles David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, Malcolm Roach, Albert Huggins, and Christian Ringo combined for just two of the Saints 46 sacks and 19 of the team’s 113 QB hits.

Onyemata, who had both sacks and 16 pressures, is expected to bounce back strong after a down year. Defensive ends Kpassagnon, Marcus Davenport, Payton Turner, and Cam Jordan were often moved inside on obvious passing situations last season. It was a successful strategy that will likely be repeated, but the Saints need more disruption from their tackles.

Street was considered a ‘‘tweener'' coming out of N.C. State, but brings the versatility that the Saints look for in defenders. He plays with good leverage and strength against tackles along the edge. He’s explosive off the snap and has terrific athleticism when inside.

He has incredible power despite being slightly undersized for a defensive tackle. He can stand up blockers at the point of attack and move them back into opposing backfields. His underrated abilities against the run are a plus for a New Orleans defense that ranks at the top of the league in that category.

Street has a devastating spin move as a pass rusher that helps him blow by blockers. He'll have to learn from disengaging more effectively but has good open-field speed to track down ball carriers. His toughness and non-stop motor allow him to make several plays on second and third effort.

New Orleans thought highly enough of Street and the other defensive tackles that they didn't address the position further in free agency. They added Air Force DT/DE in the draft, but not until the sixth round.

Street must earn his snaps at defensive tackle with the Saints' depth along the edge. His athleticism and disruptive potential give him the chance to be the latest New Orleans free agency steal. 

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