Saints Free Agency Preview: Why New Orleans Must Pursue These 5 Players
The free-agency period is upon us, and it's time for the New Orleans Saints to start making moves.
The Saints have been able to keep Drew Brees and Marques Colston already, which is great news. However, it seems as if other free agents, like Tracy Porter and Carl Nicks, are on their way out the door.
The Saints will have to fill some holes if certain players leave, and they can start doing that in free agency.
New Orleans has been able to clear some cap room by restructuring the contracts of Jahri Evans and Will Smith. In the coming days, we could also see the Saints release some players in hope of creating more cap room.
As the free-agency period continues, these are five players who the Saints need to aggressively pursue.
Jeremy Mincey, DE
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Mincey will be 29 this year, but he has only played four years in the NFL—all with the Jaguars.
In 2011, Mincey played in all 16 games for the first time in his career and piled up eight sacks. The New Orleans Saints desperately need help rushing the passer, and Mincey can provide that.
The Saints have Will Smith and Junior Galette, but these guys are really the only ones who can consistently rush the passer. Galette is not an every-down end, and the other guys on the Saints' roster tend to be better at stopping the run than rushing the passer.
The front office in New Orleans also tends to stick with their own. General manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Sean Payton like keeping their own players and using the guys that they drafted.
The Saints are not afraid to make a splash in free agency, but they tend to bring in guys that are a bit unknown and get results out of them. That is the type of player that Mincey is.
John Carlson, TE
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The New Orleans Saints have a Pro-Bowl tight end in Jimmy Graham, but they need a reliable backup that can step in if Graham ever gets injured.
John Carlson can be that guy.
This 6'5" and 251-pound tight end has the ability to help tremendously in the passing game, and he can block pretty well too.
Carlson was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft by the Seattle Seahawks and had some solid years before missing the entire 2011 season.
The Saints currently have Graham, David Thomas and Mike Higgins on the roster, but Higgins may not be back with the Saints in 2012. Higgins was brought in late last season as the Saints saw multiple tight ends go down with injury.
New Orleans will likely bring in another tight end through free agency or the draft and pair him with Graham and Thomas for the 2012 season.
Carlson has the capability of being another huge target for Drew Brees and the Saints. He would also come at a relatively cheap price for New Orleans, who already has limited cap space.
Ben Grubbs, OG
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UPDATE: The New Orleans Saints have signed Ben Grubbs to a 5-year, $36 million deal.
The New Orleans Saints would certainly like to keep All-Pro guard Carl Nicks, but it seems as if they may lose him to the market.
The Saints reportedly made an offer to Nicks earlier this week, but Nicks has yet to respond to the offer. In fact, the guard is headed to Tampa Bay to meet with the division-rival Buccaneers on Wednesday.
Grubbs would be a fine replacement for Nicks, and the Saints should be able to continue doing exactly what they have been doing for the past few years.
There's no doubt that Grubbs is one of the top targets for many other teams, so if the Saints want Grubbs then they will likely have to make a pretty good offer to him when they meet.
That would also mean that Nicks is pretty much gone in the Saints' eyes.
Brodrick Bunkley, DT
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The New Orleans Saints went out last offseason and brought in Shaun Rogers and Aubrayo Franklin with the hopes of solidifying their defensive line.
However, neither Rogers nor Franklin impressed in the 2011 season, and the Saints showed weaknesses in their interior defensive line all season.
In 2012, Brodrick Bunkley is a free agent and is coming off a very good year.
In his first year with the team, Bunkley helped the Denver Broncos by having his best year as a pro. Bunkley was a key contributor to the Broncos' good defense and will help whatever team he is on in 2012.
The Saints desperately need help on their defensive line, and they are not at a spot in the draft to take a player that can contribute immediately.
The buzz on Bunkley is that the Broncos want to re-sign him, and there's not a lot of other teams chasing after him at the moment. That's typically how the market goes for defensive tackles, but the Saints need to get after this guy before the Broncos keep him in Denver.
Ted Ginn, WR
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The New Orleans Saints have lost their best deep threat in Robert Meachem already this offseason.
However, there's an option for the Saints, and that's former San Francisco 49ers' wide receiver Ted Ginn.
Ginn is known for being a burner, and that's how the Saints would use him. I am sure that every Saints fan remembers Meachem running deep down the field for a long touchdown. Ginn can fill that same role.
The Saints still have burner Devery Henderson on the roster, and he can still fly, but he's aging and was not a major part of the Saints offense late last season.
Ginn would come at a pretty cheap cost, and Sean Payton could find ways to use this receiver in ways besides just streaks downfield.
The 49ers were able to use Ginn on reverse plays and creatively at times, but Payton would take that to the next level. Ginn would be a great target to add to Drew Brees' arsenal.
The other receivers currently on the Saints roster include Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, Adrian Arrington and Joe Morgan.
Colston and Moore will likely become the Saints' top two receivers, and Henderson will see a large amount of catches. Arrington will see more playing time than he has thus far in his career, and Morgan may get a chance to play on Sundays for the first time.
Even with these five receivers, the Saints may choose to pursue a guy like Ginn in free agency.