Welcome to the Game Changer Sports Network Free Agency Preview series. This is the New Orleans Saints Free Agency Preview. In this series we will be looking at all 32 teams over the next few months and breaking down their key free agents going into the off-season. We will also predict if they re-sign or walk to go get paid.
With the potential impending retirement of Drew Brees the New Orleans Saints are in a very though position as they come into this off-season. As of this writing they are currently $65 million over the cap. They will have to make quite a few moves just to be able to get to the cap again. This is the New Orleans Saints Free Agency Preview.
New Orleans Saints Free Agency Preview: Key Free Agents
QB Jameis Winston (27 Years Old)
With rumors of Drew Brees retiring, Winston catapulted his way to the top of this list. New Orleans cannot walk into next season without a QB. Since being drafted into the league in 2015, Winston has always had an issue with his decision making. That decision making led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to cut ties with him after his fifth year in the league. In his final year with the Bucs he fnished with 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns, and an insane 30 interceptions. Those 30 interceptions were the most by a QB in the modern era. While Winston has never been an elite QB, a change of scenery may be just what he needed.
Before the 2020 season he signed a one year, $1.1 million deal to stay in the same division as his old team. Winston will most likely take any contract that the Saints throw at him. Expect him to sign a very cheap one year prove it deal as he proves that he can be the next guy in New Orleans. As said above, it would take a lot of cap manipulation just to be able to sign him.
DT Sheldon Rankins (27 Years Old)
The 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Rankins has a history of not being able to stay healthy. He finished this season with 20 total tackles, and 1.5 sacks. He started in just one game in the last two seasons. His 2019 season was cut short by an achilles injury. The injury bug once again hit him in 2020 as he had an ankle sprain that ended his season.
The New Orleans Saints are unlikely to have the cap room to bring him back. He had restructured the final year of his rookie contract to help the Saints get out of salary cap hell last year. Given his injury history he is probably not going to get market value in free agency. His market value is in the area of four years, $45 million. Using reasonable deduction, he will most likely end up on a one year prove it deal.
Prediction: Free Agency
FS Marcus Williams (25 Years Old)
In 2020 Williams had 59 total tackles, 3 interceptions, and 7 passes deflected. His Profootballfocus grade for the 2020 season was 79.3. After being drafted in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft he has lived up to his potential. He has a career 13 interceptions and had over 50 tackles in every single season he has played.
Marcus will be one of the most attractive safeties on the open market in 2021 due to his age. He is coming off his rookie deal and he had the best season of his career. In a sport where what you did lately matters more than what you have done, Williams is going to get quite the pay increase. Budda Baker set the safety market before the 2020 season on a contract that has $14.75 million average. There is a good chance that Williams could come extremely close to that if not surpass that number.
Prediction: Free Agency
DE Trey Hendrickson (27 Years Old)
Hendrickson finished tied for second in the NFL in 2020 in sacks with 13.5. 2020 was also his first full season as a starter and he very clearly made the most of that opportunity. His 2020 sacks total was double his career total before this year. You can’t have a breakout season on a better year than a contract year. His grade for the season was 72.1.
Hendrickson will be coming off his rookie contract and will very likely get a very high pay raise. He was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft. Look for him to be in the ballpark of a 3 year, $30 million deal. Anyone that is expected to get a significant pay raise to walk in free agency given the amount of moves New Orleans has to make in order to just get some cap relief.
Prediction: Free Agency
LB Alex Anzalone (27 Years Old)
Anzalone is another Saints player who could just never stay healthy and stay on the field. In his first four seasons in the NFL he has only played in 38 games which is just over two seasons. He has only started in 20 games as well. In those 20 games he has 123 total tackles, 4 sacks, 1 interception, and 3 forced fumbles. He is another player who just didn’t live up to his potential due to the injury bug.
There’s a very good chance the Saints will be able to get him to return to the team on a very short and cheap money deal. I doubt he will have a lot of interest on the open market but if he does, look for the same contract I described above.
New Orleans Saints Free Agency Preview: Everyone Else
Offense: RB Ty Montgomery, RB Dwayne Washington, FB Michael Burton, WR Bennie Fowler, WR Lil’jordan Humphrey, TE Jared Cook, TE Jason Vander Laan, TE Cole Wick, T James Hurst, G Nick Easton, C Cameron Tom
Defense: DE Noah Spence, LB Craig Robertson, CB P.J. Williams, CB Justin Hardee, CB Ken Crowley, CB Johnson Bademosi, FS D.J. Swearinger, SS J.T. Gray
Other Free Agency Previews:
*All Contract and Cap Room numbers provided by www.spotrac.com/nfl/*
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