The arms race in the loaded NFC continued on Saturday when the Seattle Seahawks traded S Bradley McDougald and two 1st round draft choices to the New York Jets to acquire All-Pro S Jamal Adams. The New Orleans Saints already have perhaps the deepest roster of talent in the league, including a defense capable of stopping the NFL's best offenses. While that defense has talent deep into its depth chart and a Pro Bowl-caliber player at nearly every position, HC Sean Payton is not shy about making bold moves to strengthen his squad. It seems unlikely that New Orleans would pull off a trade, but there are several defensive stars still available on the free-agent market that could elevate the team’s excellent defense to an elite level.
DARQUEZE DENNARD (CB)
The 28-Yr old Dennard had spent his first six years with the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the 24th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2014 draft. He played in just nine games last year (starting 5) and has 3 career interceptions, 22 passes broken up, 3 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks. He allowed just 48.6% completion percentage when targeted in 2019 and surrendered only 1 touchdown pass. Dennard is at his best in slot coverage, a weakness of the Saints defense in recent seasons. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson was outstanding in that role as a rookie last year, but veterans P.J. Williams and Patrick Robinson have been targeted by opposing quarterbacks with frequent success.
Other defensive backs to watch that are also available include CB Dre’ Kirkpatrick, CB Morris Claiborne, and CB Logan Ryan. The Saints already have CB's Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins, one of the league's best tandems at the position and capable of shutting down the NFL's most talented receivers. A veteran CB addition would eliminate one of the team's few weaknesses and help them to match up better against opponents who have a deep corps of wideouts.
NIGEL BRADHAM (LB)
New Orleans All-Pro LB Demario Davis is one of the league's best defenders, but the Saints have some questions throughout this unit. Alex Anzalone and Kiko Alonso are both talented, but they come off season-ending injuries and have a lengthy injury history. Rookie 3rd round pick Zack Baun has a bright future but might be slow to pick up coverage duties with a limited offseason.
The 30-Yr old Bradham can play any of the LB spots and has been a consistent producer for the Philadelphia Eagles over the past four seasons. He has 3 career interceptions, 33 passes defended, 5 forced fumbles, 5 fumbles recovered, 8.5 sacks, and is an athletic sideline-to-sideline defender. Bradham is equally effective against the run and pass and would give the Saints another impact player at a position that has been riddled with injury. One other LB to watch could be former Rams and Giants star Alec Ogletree, who is better as a run defender but would give the unit another experienced veteran presence.
CLAY MATTHEWS III (EDGE)
No longer one of the league's best defensive players, the 34-Yr old Matthews can still disrupt an opponent's passing game. He had 8 sacks and forced 2 fumbles despite playing in only 56% of the Rams' defensive snaps last season. Matthews has 91.5 career sacks, mostly in ten years with the Packers, and is still a feared pass rusher off the edge. New Orleans has a disruptive DE duo with Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, but an addition like Clay Matthews to use in passing situations would give them even more flexibility in their rush packages.
JADEVEON CLOWNEY (EDGE)
Clowney, the 27-Yr old three-time Pro Bowler, has been the subject of several rumors surrounding the Saints in the last month. The 1st overall selection in the 2014 draft had 29 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in four seasons with the Houston Texans, adding 3 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in 2019 after being traded to the Seattle Seahawks.
Clowney is one of the league's better edge rushers who also plays the run well. He has expressed his desire to play for a contender in 2020, and adding him to the Jordan/Davenport tandem would give New Orleans the league's most feared edge-rushing trio.
EVERSON GRIFFEN (DE)
The Saints know what Everson Griffen can do. The 32-Yr old DE has had 3.5 sacks, and 6 QB hits in five career games against New Orleans with the Minnesota Vikings, including torturing their offensive line in last January's playoff victory. At 6’3” 273-Lbs, Griffen is an imposing presence on the outside. His combination of disruptive power and speed are capable of pressuring an offense from outside or inside. The three-time Pro Bowler has 74.5 sacks, 86 tackles for loss, and 176 QB hits through his 10-Yr career and is still playing at a top-level.
The New Orleans Saints have as much talent as anyone in the NFL at every position. But with playing in the tough NFC, and after three straight playoff disappointments, don't be surprised if New Orleans dips back into the pool of remaining talent to bolster their championship pursuit. .