Saints Should Still Look at Free Agency AFTER the Draft


I don’t know about you, but my head was spinning on Friday when I saw that the New Orleans Saints were in pursuit of free agent cornerback Josh Norman.

I actually had to double check to make sure the social media account for ESPN’s Adam Schefter was actually the real one.

Although the Saints lost out on Norman, it shows that they still are in the market for a player that can help their franchise and will spare no expense to do so — at least to a certain extent, anyway.

But the big difference is that Norman was someone who was guaranteed to be a true playmaker — unlike other times where you have to accept certain factors in a Saints free agent signing for top dollar such as:

  • “As long as the defensive line can get pressure he’s a ballhawk”
  • “As long as the secondary can cover like a blanket he’ll get to the QB”
  • “Hey he might get some flags but he’s physical which is what we need”
  • “Well he need’s a procedure done but he’s expected to bounce back by training camp/preseason/start of the season”

To be honest it’s probably why the Saints have bombed in free agency because they’ve paid ‘new car price’ for a used one with “a few kinks”.

Jun 17, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back C.J. Spiller (28) during minicamp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been in the market for a new vehicle for close to two years; but finding the right one for the right price is tough, so my wife suggested I just get a used one.

My response was, “I see what you’re saying, but I’m afraid of ‘inheriting’ someone else’s problems” — which I think the Saints have done on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless after the upcoming draft, the Saints will still have some holes or maybe divots that they’ll need to address when Mr. Irrelevant (the last player taken in every NFL Draft) is chosen; and naturally they’ll be on the phone in the stock market exchange-whirlwind of undrafted free agents.

While there are a few “man they should have been drafted” players that slip through the seven rounds, let’s take the blinders off and realize there is a reason they went undrafted.

Nov 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Bobby Richardson (78) hits New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Giants 52-49. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Saints fans will herald a player like Bobby Richardson as a “steal” after seeing his performance last year as an undrafted free agent, but that should also tell you looking at the flip side of the coin just how discombobulated the defense line was.

I know people are nervous about the Saints trading up for Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner in the draft; but out of five defensive ends on the roster, Cameron Jordan is their #1 guy at the moment and the only drafted player — with Richardson being the next highest rated.

While pickings are slim now, following the draft there could be a few phone calls placed by the Saints to secure players who can add some talent and numbers to a position that needs a little sturdiness.

Offensive guard is a position that scares the heck out of me for the Saints, solely because of what I have witnessed the last few seasons, but particularly so this during past one.

Nov 29, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief (64) and quarterback Drew Brees (9) lie on the ground after Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) makes a sack during the game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees got mauled worse than Leonardo DiCaprio did by the bear in “The Revenant” all throughout the season; and suffered a shoulder injury that had shades of the one when he was in San Diego.

The Saints may end up “double dipping” at the guard position in this draft; choosing one high and one lower in the fifth or seventh round, but they still need a proven vet at the position with Jahri Evans no longer with the team.

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Former Denver Bronco Louis Vasquez is a name still circulating in free agency surprisingly, and is someone that could help the the Saints offensive line; but the only thing that worries me is why he’s still sitting out there waiting to sign with a team.

He could be asking for more than teams are willing to give, or he could be following a trend in the NFL now — which is early retirement, though there haven’t been any reports on it.

Safety is another position that likely would be addressed as well in the coming weeks following free agency, with the loss of Rafael Bush to the Detroit Lions.

And hey: when the head coach names this as a position they’re looking at to strengthen?

Then I’ll take that as a hint.

There is some contention that the Saints will be “okay” if they draft a safety, but after Kenny Vaccaro and Jarius Byrd, there is a significant drop-off.

I mean are you really excited to see the ‘Cage Match Battle Royale’ to be their backup between Jamarca Sanford and…..Vinnie Sunseri?

Jan 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers safety Will Allen (20) against the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Like at guard, the candidates at safety are a little slim; with players like Donte Whitner headlining the list, followed by Walter Thurmond, and Will Allen.

Allen jumps to me out of these simply because Whitner likely wants “starter money”, along with not being a backup; and Thurmond has been reportedly mulling retirement since free agency began — even after receiving some lucrative offers from several teams.

Despite his age (33), Allen did have a good year last year in Pittsburgh and would be a good veteran presence; along with a likewise cheap one-year deal.

Wide receiver was a position that apparently the Saints were eyeing; with cornerback Keenan Lewis trying to persuade his friend, former O.P. Perry Walker High School teammate and fellow NOLA native Mike Wallace to head to New Orleans, but Wallace ultimately ended up with the Baltimore Ravens.

The loss of Marques Colston has left a void in the Saints wide receiver corps, leaving the group with Brandin Cooks as the veteran now.

Willie Snead hopefully will have a year like 2015 and the prayers are that Brandon Coleman will finally “have the switch turned on” this year after having what I guess you could call a ‘strong finish’ to the end of last year.

Greg Jennings was a target last year for the Saints in free agency to add a positive leader in the locker room, but he ultimately decided to head to the Miami Dolphins for greener pastures; and ironically was released by them to help recoup some of that money for their pursuits of other free agents for this year.

Anquan Boldin sits at the top of the free agent market right now, and I’ve heard the clamor by fans that the Saints should take a run on him.

Oct 22, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin (81) warms up before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Levi

Sure, Boldin is very vocal; but you can be vocal and not really say anything (if that makes any sense) and I get a very Brandon Browner-like vibe from him if the Saints were to sign him: a lot of thunder but no lightning.

Also, at the age of thirty-five, Boldin may want to get max value in a contract; which he figures would be his last one.

A surprise workout did happen though with former Saint Robert Meachem a few days ago; and he passed a physical while running a 4.48 40-yard dash — and for a 31 year old? That’s not too shabby.

Nov 10, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem (17) carries up the field against Dallas Cowboys inside linebacker Ernie Sims (59) during the third quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

He’s expected to return in a few weeks to actually run routes for the coaching staff, so we’ll see where things progress from there; but in the end, Meachem could a very “safe” free agent signing for the team.

Next: The FINAL Saints 2016 Mock Draft

In reality, the Saints need bodies at every position and the draft will ease that need slightly (more like hopefully) to have to spend more money on players that may or may not work out.

But as I mentioned in the beginning: with the attempt to sign Josh Norman, the Saints don’t look to be out of the free agent market for the right player — or as it turns out, the right price