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Saints Potential Trade Candidates

Some New Orleans players will face a fierce battle for playing time at some of the team’s deeper positions. Here are a few players that could even be traded to bolster depth at other spots or to pick up extra draft picks.
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The New Orleans Saints are no strangers to making training camp or early season trades to bolster their roster for the upcoming year. Last season, they swung a trade with the Houston Texans for CB Bradley Roby three days before the opener. In 2018, they acquired QB Teddy Bridgewater from the Jets right at the end of preseason. One year later, they dealt LB Vince Biegel to the Dolphins in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso.

New Orleans is also not averse to trading away players to accumulate draft picks for the following year. They've done it with DT Akiem Hicks and LB Stephone Anthony over the last decade. Remember that this team does not currently have picks in the first or sixth rounds in next year's draft.

Why Would the Saints Trade a Player?

New Orleans owns one of the NFL's best all-around rosters, one that appears capable of competing for a championship. However, the Saints are also preparing for RB Alvin Kamara to be suspended by the league and have no proven depth at the position other than 12-year veteran Mark Ingram.

Other than running back and tight end, New Orleans has talented depth at nearly every position. Perhaps the Saints trade a player from a deep position for a running back or tight end during training camp, or to pick up an extra Day 3 selection in the 2023 Draft.

The Saints won't deal any of their top caliber talent. However, coach Dennis Allen will certainly be facing some difficult roster decisions by the end of August. Here are four New Orleans players that are talented enough to even start for some other teams, but could be on the outside looking in because of the depth at their positions.

Rather than outright release them, the Saints could look to trade at least one to get some value in return.

BRADLEY ROBY, CB

New Orleans Saints cornerback Bradley Roby (21) tackles Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Freddie Swain (18). Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints cornerback Bradley Roby (21) tackles Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Freddie Swain (18). Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Roby was acquired from Houston before the start of last year to fill the spot opposite shut-down CB Marshon Lattimore. Because of the rapid development of rookie third-round choice Paulson Adebo, Roby was nothing more than a backup most of the year.

The 30-year-old Roby had an interception, broke up five throws, and allowed a 70% completion rate when targeted last season. He played in 14 of 17 games, but appeared in just 42% of the defensive snaps. Roby didn't contribute anything on special teams, an important attribute for New Orleans reserves, playing only five special teams snaps all year.

An experienced starter for seven seasons prior to coming to New Orleans, Roby can effectively play outside corner or slot. He’s a solid tackler and is efficient in both man and off-ball coverage.

The Saints thought highly enough of him that they renegotiated his contract this offseason, instead of releasing him to save salary cap space. Roby’s new deal will still make him a free agent at the end of the year, but will also make him easier to move because of a manageable salary.

You can't have enough quality corners in today's NFL. However, the Saints already have two shut-down stars in Roby and Adebo. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is one of the NFL's best slot corners.

Safeties Marcus Maye, Tyrann Mathieu, and P.J. Williams are also able to take on coverage duties efficiently. The Saints also used a 2022 second-round choice on Tennessee CB Alontae Taylor, a promising and versatile cover corner.

Roby adds a valuable coverage option in the secondary. However, with the depth here and the versatility of their safeties, Roby also seems like the most logical player to be moved. The Saints won't release such a valuable commodity, but could trade him for the right price.

TANOH KPASSAGNON, DE

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (90). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (90). Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Kpassagnon was an underrated free-agent addition last season who turned out to pay great dividends. He was the team leader at mid-season in sacks and quarterback pressures before being lost for the year in Week 10.

Kpassagnon provided early season stability and production for a New Orleans defensive line that was without injured ends Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner and suspended DT David Onyemata.

Despite playing in just eight games, Kpassagnon tied a career best with four sacks while adding 11 pressures, 3 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and batting down two passes. He possesses good length and strength and at 6’7” and 289-Lbs., can be effective on the edge and at defensive tackle.

The Saints have an embarrassment of riches at defensive end. Cameron Jordan continues to play at a high level after 11 NFL seasons. Marcus Davenport is beginning to develop into the star foreseen when New Orleans used a first-round pick on him in 2018.

Payton Turner, a first-round pick last season, missed most of the year with injury but flashed disruptive potential. Carl Granderson and Kpassagnon make up key starting quality depth, but the Saints also added pass rusher Taco Charlton another former first-round selection, this offseason.

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Kpassagnon has valuable versatility up front and could be used more at defensive tackle, an area with questionable depth. If the Saints young defensive tackles and Charlton shine in training camp, either Granderson or Kpassagnon could be on the outside looking in. Neither player has a big contract, but Kpassagnon will be a free agent at the end of the year.

The depth that New Orleans has up front has been one of the biggest keys to their elite defense. It seems unlikely that the team would thin out that depth by moving on from any of their established players. Remember that Davenport has been injury-prone throughout his career and Turner is still largely unproven.

MARQUEZ CALLAWAY, WR

New Orleans Saints receiver Marquez Callaway (1) catches a pass defended by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23). Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints receiver Marquez Callaway (1) catches a pass defended by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (23). Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

An undrafted addition from Tennessee in 2020, Callaway was slated to be the Number 2 wideout after a promising rookie campaign. He’d be elevated to the position's top option after season-ending ankle surgery to All-Pro WR Michael Thomas.

Callaway led the Saints with 608 yards receiving in 2021, pulling in 46 receptions on a team-high 84 targets and scoring six touchdowns. He had four outings of over 70 yards receiving, including six catches for 112 yards during a Week 15 upset of Tampa Bay.

It was the Saints only 100-yard game from a wideout all season. New Orleans was one of just two teams without at least two 100-yard games from a wide receiver last season.

The 24-year-old Callaway has developed into a solid route runner. He has deceptive deep speed, good concentration in traffic, and outstanding leaping ability.

At 6’2” and 204-Lbs., Callaway provides a good-sized target for his quarterback and works the sidelines well. He also has a nice chemistry with QB Jameis Winston, an undervalued area of importance in an offense.

Callaway has the attributes and potential of a very good complementary weapon. With the free-agent additions of free-agent WR Jarvis Landry and first-round pick Chris Olave, along with the expected return of Thomas, Callaway will probably be competing for the fourth receiver spot.

TRE'QUAN SMITH, WR

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) after a reception against the Tennessee Titans. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (10) after a reception against the Tennessee Titans. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

A third-round choice in the 2018 NFL Draft, Smith has never lived up to expectations. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career and his production disappears for long stretches of a season. Despite multiple opportunities, Smith has never been able to secure either the second or third receiver spot to complement Thomas.

The 26-year-old Smith has always had big-play ability, but he’s never been able to get consistent separation from coverage. Injuries limited him to 11 games in 2021, where he caught 32 passes for 377 yards and three scores.

In 55 career contests, Smith has just two 100-yard games and two more with over 70 yards receiving. Only one of those outings has come in the last 25 games, when the Saints were in desperate need of a playmaker with Thomas sidelined.

At 6’2” and 210-Lbs., Smith has the physical attributes and speed that NFL teams covet. He was re-signed to a two-year contract this offseason because of his knowledge of the offense, but will have a desperate fight for playing time. Smith would only cost the Saints $1.5 million in dead cap if released, but his physical potential might give him late-round trade value.

Another name to watch at the receiver position is Deonte Harty, who, like Callaway, is entering the last year of his contract. Harty was the team’s most reliable wideout a year ago, catching 36 passes for 570 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. An underrated route runner with game breaking speed, Harty is also one of the league's most feared kick returners.

Harty adds a dynamic element to both offense and special teams, but the Saints also have second-year WR Easop Winston and undrafted rookie Rashid Shaheed who could return kicks. If Winston or Shaheed are impressive in preseason, New Orleans could opt to keep a bigger receiver over the 5’6” and 170-Lb. Harty.

New Orleans Saints receiver Deonte Harris (11) returns a kick against New York Giants. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

New Orleans Saints receiver Deonte Harris (11) returns a kick against New York Giants. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY 

A usually proficient New Orleans passing attack plummeted to last in the league in 2021. Injuries to Jameis Winston and along the offensive line were major factors in those struggles, but so were the lack of weapons at wide receiver.

New Orleans rarely keeps six wideouts on the active roster, but could make an exception because of the talent here. Callaway, Harty, and Smith will wage a fierce battle for those final spots on the depth chart, with Harty having an edge because of his special teams value.

Don't be surprised if the Saints trade one of these wideouts before the start of the regular season to either pick up depth at running back or tight end or to give them an extra draft pick in 2023.

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