Key NFC South Players Entering Free-Agency
New Orleans Saints – Projected Cap Space: $30.8M
Upcoming Free Agents:
RB Tim Hightower RB Travaris Cadet
FB John Kuhn *WR Brandon Coleman
*WR Corey Fuller TE John Phillips
OT Tony Hills OG Jahri Evans
OG Tim Lelito LS Justin Drescher
DT Nick Fairley *DE Kasim Edebali
DE Darryl Tapp LB Sam Barrington
LB Paul Kruger LB Michael Mauti
LB Jason Trusnik CB Sterling Moore
*CB B.W. Webb CB Kyle Wilson
*SS Chris Banjo SS Roman Harper
SS Shiloh Keo SS Jamarca Sanford
$30 million sounds like a lot until you see the number of players the Saints have entering free-agency. Good news is none of them are franchise tag names and should be willing to negotiate if the franchise can squash their coach-trading rumors quickly.
Nothing deters a free-agent more than questions at the head coaching position, and New Orleans has exactly that to go along with an aging quarterback and lackluster defense.
If the team wants to keep the good ones, they need to give them a feeling of security beyond just the paycheck.
MUST KEEP – RB, Tim Hightower
It’s amazing to think about this player being out of the NFL a short time ago becoming the Saints’ second-leading rusher averaging 4.1 yards per carry for a total of 548 rushing yards.
Mark Ingram may not lead the league in rushing, but he’s good at what New Orleans asks him to do. However, what they ask him to do isn’t very conducive to staying healthy as 2016 marks the first full season for Ingram since 2012, and is just his second full year of his career.
Keeping Hightower to help carry the workload means prolonging both of their NFL lives, and ensures Brees has someone worth handing it off to from time-to-time.
MOST EXPENDABLE – OG, Jahri Evans
The 33-year old lineman was cut early this season before being brought back to help guard Drew Brees and try to reclaim some post-season success once again before he hangs it up.
They didn’t find the playoffs, but he did have one of his better years for the team leading to talks of bringing him back for 2017.
As it stands, Evans isn’t sure he won’t retire, and is going to take some time to decide his future for himself. Not that the team shouldn’t appreciate the time he’s given them already, but if he’s leaning on the retired side of the fence, maybe don’t pull him back so much.
The Saints need to get better on the front-line, and doing it in free-agency by finding youth and talent is better than keeping a veteran who is nothing more than a band-aid at this point.
MOST LIKELY TO JOIN A RIVAL – CB, Sterling Moore
Sterling Moore tied for the team lead in interceptions and was near the top in tackles despite playing in just 13 games this year for the Saints.
Entering free-agency he should be on the list of names to look at for each of the NFC South teams as they all have needs for cornerbacks who can play outside or inside, and have success in both parts of the field.
Smart money is on Carolina who certainly needs some experience in their defensive backfield, and could be the next spot for Moore to land as he continues his tour of the division.