25 Saints players scheduled for some form of free agency

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The loss to the Vikings still stings, but the Saints very quickly will have some important decision to make for next season. Currently the Saints have 25 players on their roster who are scheduled to become un-restricted or restricted free agents. 18 of the 25 Saints players are expected to be un-restricted free agents; six of those eighteen are full time starters. NFL free agency begins March 18th. Below is a list of Saints who will be looking at new deals either from the Saints or another team.

Unrestricted Free Agents:

  • QB Drew Brees: I expect the Saints and Brees to work out another deal. I would expect it to be year to year with him going forward. Brees will be back.
  • SS Vonn Bell: He will have a market after having a career year this season. Bell led the league in fumble recoveries and hauled in his first career interception. Bell is the most consistent player in the Saints secondary. The Saints should look to keep him.
  • CB Eli Apple: Since coming over from the Giants last season, Apple was the starter opposite Marshon Lattimore. Apple’s season ended when he landed on injured reserve after the regular season. The Saints brought in veteran Janoris Jenkins in week 14. I think the Saints want Apple back, but at their price. Eli Apple will likely be playing for another team next season.
  • LG Andrus Peat: The former first round pick has been a solid addition at guard, after starting out at tackle early in his career. Peat’s return for next season is unlikely. The Saints feel good about G Nick Easton, who played in 6 games, when Peat went down with an arm injury.
  • LB A.J Klein: The veteran linebacker had his best season in a Saints uniform in 2019. Klein scored 2.5 sacks, 67 total tackles, a forced fumble and an interception returned for a touchdown. I think the Saints will try to hold onto Klein; the question is how much interest will he get from other teams?
  • DT David Onyemata: The Big O started 15 games, finishing with three sacks. Onyemata had 11 quarterback hits; that ranks him third on the team behind Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport. The Saints love Onyemata and will make a bid to keep him.
  • CB P.J Williams: He’s a valuable member of the secondary with versatility to play in the slot and even at safety, if pressed into action at that position. Williams tested free agency last year, before returning to the Saints. I think he’s going to have a market that the Saints might not be interested in competing with. This is a tossup for me on whether Williams will be back.
  • WR Ted Ginn Jr.: He can still run, but I think his days in New Orleans are over. Ginn is 34 years old, and the Saints will likely want to move on this off-season. Ginn finished this season with 421 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • FB Zach Line: He missed four games with a knee injury. Line is a big part of the Saints rushing attack as the lead blocker for Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. Line will be back; he won’t cost much and the Saints recognize his value on special teams.
  • QB Teddy Bridgewater: New Orleans will love Bridgewater forever for leading the Saints to 5 straight wins, after Drew Brees went down with a thumb injury in week two. Unfortunately for the Saints, he created a market for himself in those five games. I think it’s going to be hard to keep Teddy Bridgewater this off-season. Plenty of teams would love to have Teddy as their starting QB.
  • RB Dwayne Washington: He’s a good special teams player, that is valuable and won’t cost much…plus Washington brings good depth to the running back position. I think he’ll be back in Black & Gold.
  • G Patrick Omameh: The journeymen offensive lineman was pressed into action, when Larry Warford went down at left guard. Omameh played in 14 games at different spots on the offensive line. His value is good; he’s one of those guys who won’t cost a ton. The Saints would be wise to hold onto Omameh for depth.
  • LB Stephone Anthony: The former first round pick returned to New Orleans after rookie Kaden Ellis landed on injured reserve. He played sparingly on defense and most of his playing time came on special teams. The Saints can find a guy like Anthony in the draft or the undrafted market. If they don’t find anyone in the draft or undrafted process, then the Saints can go back and scoop Anthony up. He’ll be around.
  • LB Manti Te’o: He returned to the Saints in week 14 after the injury bug bit the Saintss at linebacker. Te’o played in three games. The Saints will likely move on from him.
  • S D.J Swearinger: He was added in week 16, when depth began to erode at safety because of injury. Swearinger played in the week 17 finale. The Saints likely won’t make a run to keep him around in free agency.
  • CB Johnson Bademosi: He arrived in New Orleans in week 8 and was a big part of the Saints special teams unit before landing on injured reserve in week 15. This will be a spot where the Saints will look to replace him with a cheaper option. Again, if they can’t, he’ll be on the market for a while…so the Saints could add him later in the off-season.
  • DE Noah Spence: After Marcus Davenport and Sheldon Rankins landed on injured reserve, the Saints scooped Spence up for some depth. He didn’t play in a game for the Saints. I don’t see the Saints bringing him back.
  • LB Josh Martin: He was on injured reserve all season. The Saints can bring Martin back on the cheap.

Restricted Free Agents:

Teams have three options with RFA’s. The Saints can tender an RFA at a first round, second round or original round compensation level. A restricted free agent can negotiate with other teams, but the Saints can match any potential deal. Or, the Saints can receive compensation that corresponds with the level that the Saints tendered the player, if the Black & Gold don’t match an offer.

  • QB/versatile football player Taysom Hill: This is tough to grade. I mean Taysom Hill plays QB, TE, WR, RB and even a kick returner at times. He is a jack of all trades and that’s rare in the NFL. So what’s the value? If the Saints tender him at first round level, that would pay him $4.6 million this season. The other option is not even let Hill test the free agent market and hammer out a long term contract extension. The Saints love Hill and won’t be willing to part with him.
  • Long Snapper Zach Wood: He’s been with the Saints for three years and I can’t imagine the Saints wanting to shake up the chemistry between Wood, Thomas Morstead, and Will Lutz.
  • WR Austin Carr: He played in six games before ending his season on injured reserve. I don’t think the Saints will tender him as an RFA.
  • CB Justin Hardee: He’s a stud on special teams. A guy with Hardee’s ability in the kicking game is hard to find. I expect the Saints to tender him at the original round designation (Hardee was undrafted). That compensation would pay Hardee $2.1 million dollars for the 2020 season.
  • OL Cameron Tom: He was on injured reserve all season. The Saints will likely let Tom test the waters a bit and potentially sign him back at some point this off-season.

Exclusive-right free agents

The Saints can offer a tender to an exclusive-rights free agent at the league minimum, and that player cannot negotiate with another team. If the Saints don’t tender a player an offer, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. An exclusive right’s free agent is a player with two or fewer seasons of service time with an expired contract.
  • CB J.T Gray: He’s a special teams dynamo and earned 2nd team All Pro honors for his ability in the kicking game. I expect the Saints to tender Gray at the league minimum.
  • WR Keith Kirkwood: He spent most of the year on injured reserve. I know the Saints like Kirkwood and will push to keep him.
  • DT Taylor Stallworth: Stallworth spent most of the year on the practice squad. Stallworth was on the Saints active roster in 2018. The Saints are going to want to keep him.
  • WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey: Was on and off the Saints active roster and practice squad. He played in five games. Humphrey was a priority undrafted free agent last off-season. The Saints will bring him back.
  • RB Ricky Ortiz: He filled in for Zach Line, when Line went down with a knee injury. If Line returns in free agency, Ortiz could still be brought back for training camp.
  • LB Colton Jumper: He was on IR the entire season. The Saints can let him test the market and sign Jumper for training camp, if he’s not on a roster.