Kristian Garic: Saints free agency primer

Kristian Garic
February 13, 2019 - 6:49 pm

In less than a month the Saints will dive into free agency looking to add a few players who could put them over the top; when the new league year starts on March 11th.  The Saints roster is one of the best in the NFL, and a free agent or two could be the missing link to another Super Bowl.  Typically the Saints haven’t been the team to make a splash move with a big signing.  New Orleans likes to let the market settle and then start negotiating deals.  The estimated cap space for the Saints is right over $9 million dollars.  Here are a couple of names that could be on the Black & Gold radar.

Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle:  Since Sheldon Rankins tore his Achilles in the playoffs, the Saint are thin along the defensive line.  Richardson would be an ideal signing, and probably won’t break the bank.  He’s coming off a series of “prove it” deals and hasn’t been able to provide enough proof to his most recent team in the Minnesota Vikings.

Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle:  Following the theme here?  Defensive tackle help will be a priority this off-season.  The Saints flirted with Suh last year in free agency, before the big man decided to sign with the Rams.  Suh wasn’t dominant all season, but had his moments in the playoffs where he made some impactful plays.  Suh would be a significant addition to a front four of the Saints that was disruptive in the passing game and suffocating in the running game.

Tyrann Mathieu, Safety:  Remember the Honey Badger?  Once a big menace to NFL offenses, the former LSU Tiger signed a 1 year deal with the Texans last off-season and is scheduled to become an un-restricted free agent next month.  Safety Marcus Williams took a step back this season.  Vonn Bell was the Saints best safety this season.  Last off-season’s addition of Kurt Coleman produced little return.  The Saints will be in the market for another safety.  In today’s NFL where the three safety look on defense is so popular, it’s easy to see why New Orleans will be shopping for safeties.  I could see the Saints asking Kurt Coleman to restructure his contract to create some more cap room.

Lamarcus Joyner, Safety:  The Rams used their franchise tag on Joyner last year.  I love to watch him play.  Joyner is a very physical safety, capable of covering slot receivers.  He’s a lot like Saints safety Vonn Bell, but better.  Joyner would be a good get, but I don’t think the Saints are going to be able to win the bidding war I expect to ensue for Joyner on the open market.

Mark Ingram, Running Back:  The Saints clearly want Ingram back, but the open market might price them out of the Ingram sweepstakes.  Ideally, I think the Saints want Ingram for somewhere around $5 to $6 million a year.  Other teams could afford to pay him more than that.  I would expect Ingram to cash in on a deal that averages $7 million or more this off-season.  I don’t think that deal will be in New Orleans.

All in all, don’t get caught up in the salary cap space conversation about the Saints.  GM Mickey Loomis can create more room if need be.  If the Saints want a player bad enough in free agency, history tells us Loomis can make it work.  The Saints more recent approach of looking for value in free agency with some second tier signings a week or two into free agency has served them well.  The Saints will continue to stick to that strategy as they look to add one or two more pieces to a Super Bowl caliber roster.



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