Saints Need To Sign This Versatile Free Agent TE


A few days ago I tinkered with the notion that the New Orleans Saints could possibly go in the direction of selecting a tight end in the early rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The lack of depth on the roster at that position is glaring after they traded Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks and leaving Josh Hill as the heir apparent.

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Benjamin Watson, is as they say in the NFL, on the “wrong side of 30” at 34 years of age and Orson Charles was on the practice squad for the Saints this past season.

I noted that I don’t think the Saints will even touch a tight end in the draft until the mid-round range so free agency is the next best solution.

The only issue with that is money which it’s reported the team is currently $4.68 million under the salary cap.

The Saints still have to allow for their rookie draft class signing for 2015 which will be around $3 million.

Defensive end Cameron Jordan was thought to be in line for a contract restructure by ESPN’s Mike Triplett back in February to lower his $6.9 million salary cap hit.

Rumors of this restructure has been gaining more ground not just for the cap relief, but for locking up Jordan long-term.

The extra money though could be used to sign a tight end in free agency that could help the Saints especially in the run game.

Sep 21, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end James Casey (85) warms up prior to the game against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

James Casey hasn’t received much interest and is someone who the Saints could snatch up very cheaply for a one or two year contract.

Looking at his receiving stats you likely won’t be impressed with Casey catching 72 passes for 842 yards (11.7 yards avg.) and 6 touchdowns.

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But according to Pro Football Focus, Casey jumped from being ranked as the #21 tight end out of 214 (5.1 grade overall) in 2013 to #11 out of 200 (6.1 grade overall) in 2014.

A huge chunk of that grade in 2014 came from him being used mainly as a blocking tight end and receiving a grade of 4.0 which was 13th overall.

Casey’s blocking skills more than likely come from the time he spent with the Houston Texans from 2009-2012 where he was in the dual role as not only tight end but fullback as well.

While he’s not Graham, who was ranked #32 overall in 2014 by the way, Casey can provide support in the run game as well as a reliable pass catcher.

With the Saints going all in on the run game for this upcoming season his services could be greatly utilized.

Casey actually reminds me of former Saints 2009 Super Bowl season back-up tight end David Thomas — who while wasn’t a huge receiving threat (81 receptions for 677 yards and 7 touchdowns), was used mainly as a blocker.

Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Zach Miller (86) during the first half against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Other options like former Seahawk Zach Miller are still out there and he would be a good signing but he was released in March with a failed physical in part due to an ankle injury.

Miller suffered the injury in Week 3 of the 2014 season and was placed on injured reserve in November of that year.

Prior to that injury he was one of the Seahawks best offensive weapons in 2013 and PFF ranked him as the 9th tight end out of 214 with a grade of 11.7.

If durability is a concern for the Saints, Casey has only missed four games in his six seasons in the NFL.

Yes Casey hasn’t created a huge buzz in free agency but he’s someone the team should sign to help open up more options for themselves in the draft and add depth at the position.

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