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Saints Post-Draft Free Agent Possibilities

After a successful draft and the addition of safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu this offseason, here are some remaining free agents that New Orleans could explore to bolster a talented roster.

The New Orleans Saints took care of two glaring team needs in last weekend's NFL Draft. New Orleans used first-round picks on WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning, then a second rounder on CB Alontae Taylor.

New Orleans wasn't extremely active on the free agent market prior to the draft. Their biggest signing was S Marcus Maye to offset the loss of S Marcus Williams. They also added defensive tackles Kentavius Street and Jaleel Johnson besides re-signing Jameis Winston, P.J. Williams, and Bradley Roby.

The Saints made their biggest free-agent splash when they officially agreed to a three-year contract with S Tyrann Mathieu two days ago. While we shouldn't expect any more major signings by the team, there are still players available at positions of need.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that former Rams and Patriots star RB Sony Michel is scheduled to meet with New Orleans later this week. Michel has rushed for at least 840 yards in three of his four NFL seasons. His name was brought up by Brendan Boylan of SNN during the Network's draft show as a potential complement to Alvin Kamara.

Here are some other options available to New Orleans who could bolster thin areas on their depth chart.

RUNNING BACK

Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel (25) carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams running back Sony Michel (25) carries the ball against the Arizona Cardinals. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • Sony Michel (27 - Rams)
  • Jordan Howard (27 - Eagles)
  • Darrel Williams (27 - Chiefs)
  • Jerick McKinnon (30 - Chiefs)
  • Phillip Lindsay (28 - Dolphins)
  • Latavius Murray (31 - Ravens)
  • Devonta Freeman (30 - Ravens)

The Saints offense still revolves around the versatile and dynamic talents of Alvin Kamara. However, a February arrest in Las Vegas could have Kamara facing league discipline. Even if he doesn't get suspended, the team could use a complementary back to go along with 11-year veteran Mark Ingram.

Michel would be a big addition. He’s just a below average receiver, but at 5'11" and 215-Lbs. is extremely effective between the tackles. Michel ran for over 900 yards for New England in 2018 and 2019 and picked up 845 yards as an injury replacement for the Rams last season.

Knee injuries have robbed Howard of some of his burst, but he’s still a terrific power runner. The versatile Williams, an LSU product, emerged as Kansas City's leading rusher last season. McKinnon rejuvenated his career with a terrific playoff run for the Chiefs. Lindsay was a two-time 1,000-yard back for the Broncos who quietly fills up a stat sheet.

Murray and Freeman each know the Saints system. Both were picked up by the Ravens after being released by New Orleans last preseason. Each showed a decline with the Saints, but combined for 1,077 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for an injury-marred Baltimore backfield.

A lengthy suspension to Kamara could cripple the offense. Ingram is still effective as a complementary weapon, but has too much mileage to be productive over several games as a featured back.

LINEBACKER

New Orleans Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander (5) against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander (5) against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

  • Kwon Alexander (28 - Saints)
  • Anthony Barr (30 - Vikings)
  • K.J. Wright (33 - Raiders)
  • Jaylon Smith (27 - Giants)
  • Anthony Hitchens (29 - Chiefs)
  • A.J. Klein (31 - Bills)
  • Danny Trevathan (32 - Bears)

The Saints have a terrific duo here with All-Pro Demario Davis and second-year talent Pete Werner. Outside of Kaden Elliss on early downs against the run, there is no depth here. Alexander played the best ball of his career in 2021 and could still be re-signed by the team.

Barr would be an intriguing addition. He’s a big defender who’s been slowed by injuries in recent years, but when healthy was an asset against the run and pass. Wright and Trevathan look at the tail-end of very good careers, but could still be effective with limited snaps.

Klein knows the defense from his time with the Saints from 2017 to 2019. Smith is a dynamic athlete, but must show far more discipline after a promising start to his career. Hitchens was a surprise release by the Chiefs, but brings every down starting experience.

The best option for the Saints would be to bring back Kwon Alexander. He’s an outstanding fit in this defense and has a special chemistry with Davis. If that doesn't happen, it seems like that New Orleans will roll with Elliss and fifth-round pick D'Marco Jackson behind Davis and Werner, barring injury.

WIDE RECEIVER

Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry (80) makes a catch against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Browns receiver Jarvis Landry (80) makes a catch against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

  • Jarvis Landry (29 - Browns)
  • Will Fuller (28 -Dolphins)
  • Emmanuel Sanders (35 - Bills)
  • Dede Westbrook (28 -Vikings)
  • Mohamed Sanu (32 - 49ers)

New Orleans reportedly met with Landry weeks before the draft. He’s a productive possession receiver who runs sharp routes. Sanders knows the offense and was one of the Saints leading receivers in place of an injured Michael Thomas in 2020.

A former first-round choice, Fuller had a career-high 53 receptions, 853 yards, and 8 touchdowns for Houston in 2020. However, he is extremely unreliable because of a lengthy history of injuries. The electric Westbrook looked like a potential star before a devastating knee injury in 2020. He hasn't been the same since.

Even with the struggles of the New Orleans receiving corps last year, it would be surprising to see the team add another wideout now.

Thomas returns after missing all of last season and most of 2020. Olave will have an immediate role. The Saints have strong depth with Deonte Harty and Marquez Callaway and also re-signed Lil'Jordan Humphrey and Tre'Quan Smith.

TIGHT END

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin (89) in action against Washington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin (89) in action against Washington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

  • Kyle Rudolph (32 - Giants)
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  • Jimmy Graham (35 - Bears)
  • Jesse James (28 - Bears)
  • Eric Ebron (29 - Steelers)
  • Blake Jarwin (27 - Cowboys)

I’m sick of writing this, but it’s so unbelievable that it’s worth noting over and over: Nineteen NFL tight ends had better production than the Saints combined trio of Adam Trautman, Juwan Johnson, and Nick Vannett in 2020.

New Orleans has officially moved utility weapon Taysom Hill to tight end. However, expect him to continue to be utilized in space and out of the backfield as a gadget player. Johnson is the best pure receiver out of the group, while Trautman and Vannett showed flashes as decent blockers.

The Saints missed out on several affordable, top-tier tight ends early in free agency. Rudolph and Graham are at the end of terrific careers, but don't seem to have much left.

Ebron is a younger clone of Jared Cook, also a free agent. Both players have special ability, but each have infuriatingly erratic production and inconsistent effort.

The New Orleans passing game will revolve around its wideouts and Kamara. One name to watch is Jarwin. He may miss most of the 2022 season with a hip injury, but is a terrific receiver who could be a long-term asset once recovered.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Los Angeles Rams center Coleman Shelton (65) against Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96). Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams center Coleman Shelton (65) against Chicago Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks (96). Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

  • Larry Ogunjobi (27 - Bengals)
  • Akiem Hicks (32 - Bears)
  • Eddie Goldman (28 - Bears)
  • Linval Joseph (33 - Chargers)
  • Sheldon Richardson (31 -Vikings)
  • Malik Jackson (32 - Browns)
  • Shamar Stephen (31 - Broncos)

New Orleans has a strong interior unit against the run. This has been one of the NFL's best run defenses for the last four seasons. However, the Saints got very little pass rush from this position in 2021. Their defensive tackles registered just 19 of the team’s 113 QB hits, and only David Onyemata recorded a sack.

Ogunjobi is a dynamic player, but went back on the market after a failed physical this spring. Hicks, a former Saint, Richardson, and Jackson can still be disruptive pass rushers on a limited snap count. Goldman, Joseph, and Stephen are better against the run, but can collapse a pass pocket with bull rushes.

The Saints added free-agent defensive tackles Kentavius Street and Jaleel Johnson this offseason to bolster depth. Ends Tanoh Kpassagnon, Payton Turner, and even Marcus Davenport were effective as inside rushers on obvious passing situations last season. Expect New Orleans to employ that same strategy in 2021 because of their talented depth along the edge.

It wouldn't be a shock to see the Saints bring in any of the players on this list. With the talent and depth already in place, Kwon Alexander and the running back position seem to be the only areas worth watching. 

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