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After Years Of Being Underutilized, New Orleans Saints Lose Pass-Rusher Signs With Philadelphia Eagles

The New Orleans Saints tried to make an off-ball linebacker out of Zack Baun, and now he will be rushing the passer for the Philadelphia Eagles.

While it was not an entirely unexpected loss, it is an impactful one for the New Orleans Saints. As the NFL's free agency period opened up, former Saints linebacker Zack Baun immediately drew interest and found a landing spot.

New Orleans Saints linebacker Zack Baun (53) on the kickoff return team.

New Orleans Saints linebacker Zack Baun (53) on the kickoff return team.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Baun expects to sign a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. The new league year does not begin until Wednesday, March 13. While the signing will not become official until then, typically these deals hold.

The landing spot makes almost too much sense. The Eagles love smaller-sized and athletic linebackers that can be disruptive in the backfield. That is the perfect role for Baun. During his four years in New Orleans, Baun never got the opportunity to flex his muscle in that spot. Perhaps disappointingly so.

Baun was not consistently deployed as a pass rusher until the final handful of games in 2023. By season's end he amassed 15 total pressures per Pro Football Focus including two sacks. He was also integral in helping to limit mobile quarterbacks. 

For years, in addition to holding a core special teams role, New Orleans tried to turn Baun into an off-ball linebacker. They passed on using him as a pressure player off the edge due to his size (6-foot-3 and 225 pounds). Now, he lands in a system coordinated by longtime coach Vic Fangio. It feels very likely that the departing Saints defender just found the perfect system and landing spot.