Ranking the New Orleans Saints' Best Remaining Free-Agent Options

Will Osgood@@BRwillosgoodAnalyst IMarch 20, 2013

Ranking the New Orleans Saints' Best Remaining Free-Agent Options

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    With the 2013 NFL free agency period more than a week old, the New Orleans Saints have been refreshingly quiet. The team has chosen to be selective in its pursuits of outside talent. 

    It has only hosted three players: Keenan Lewis and Benjamin Watson—each who signed on the dotted line with the team—and Nnamdi Asomugha, who is still a free agent. The Saints and Asomugha apparently "hit it off" this past weekend. 

    Still, the team possesses many holes on its roster. Those include, but are not limited to, left tackle, pass-rushing outside linebacker, backup quarterback and nose tackle. 

    With tremendous talent in the 2013 draft, the team would be wise to fill some of its holes by selecting college players. Nonetheless, there are at least a few free agents who could make the team better immediately. 

No. 5 OLB Elvis Dumervil

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    Make all the fax machine jokes you want. The fact is that Elvis Dumervil being available on the open market should have caused Mickey Loomis and his pro scouting staff to pause for more than a few moments. 

    Dumervil is the kind of pass-rusher the team hasn't had at its disposal in years. Though undersized (6'0", 255 pounds), Dumervil is more than explosive. Plus, he's extremely durable. He's never played in fewer than 13 games in one year, which was his rookie season. 

    He's also never had fewer than five sacks in a season. He is half a sack away from posting double-digit sacks in four of his six professional seasons. 

    In other words, the guy has a magnet connected to the opposing quarterback. He's around the quarterback all the time. 

    The main issue with Dumervil is his size and the fact the Saints already were the worst run defense in the league a year ago. The team plays in a division already committed to running the football with Cam Newton and Co. in Carolina, Doug Martin in Tampa and Steven Jackson recently signed by the Atlanta Falcons

    For that reason, and his expected asking price, Dumervil is not an ideal fit in New Orleans. But my oh my would his ability to get to the quarterback be a nice piece to add to this defense.

No. 4 CB Nnamdi Asomugha

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    It's not that Nnamdi Asomugha was terrible the past two years in Philadelphia. Actually, it is. He was absolutely atrocious. 

    But, in fairness to him, the Eagles played him in the slot in nickel situations and asked him to play zone coverage almost every other down he played. In other words, they used him in the two possible ways he could never excel. 

    Take solace that if he were to sign with the New Orleans Saints, Rob Ryan won't use him in either setting. Instead, Ryan would elect to play Asomugha man-to-man on the weak side of the formation. 

    That is the way smart coaches use their No. 1 corners. They have him eliminate the opposing team's lone receiver on the weak side of the formation. Keenan Lewis would then be allowed to man up against the team's best receiver on the strong side of the formation. 

    Asomugha would also be a great fit in New Orleans, since he is known around the league as one of its most prominent humanitarians and as an all-around great guy. 

    The main factor that should come into play is, simply, how much money does the guy want? If he comes on the cheap, the Saints would be wise to make the move. If not, move on. 

No. 3 QB Kevin Kolb

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    The New Orleans Saints are desperate for a quarterback ready to back up Drew Brees in 2013. Sure, Drew Brees has not missed a game as a member of the Saints. But the 34-year-old may not be able to make that claim for long. 

    Kevin Kolb is hands down the best remaining backup quarterback on the market. Though he was unsuccessful as a starter in Arizona, there isn't a quarterback alive who could have succeeded behind that offensive line. 

    Kolb made some plays in the clutch a season ago. His downfield accuracy is not great in comparison to Brees, but in the intermediate and short zones, he is lethal. 

    And with David Carr re-signing with the Giants on Tuesday, Kolb is the only option that makes any sense, save for the team drafting a player late in the draft and immediately handing him the No. 2 job. 

No. 2 OT Eric Winston/Sebastian Vollmer

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    To put it simply, productive offensive tackles at the NFL level do not grow on trees, contrary to popular opinion. 

    Eric Winston has been an extremely productive right tackle in his seven NFL seasons. Last season, his lone in Kansas City, Winston gave up six sacks (down from the previous two years in Houston). Six seems like a lot until you realize Kansas City's quarterbacks were Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn

    Winston was a shocking cut earlier this offseason. As seen in the photo here, Winston excels most notably at blocking effectively in space. That ability would help the Saints get back to the swing screen game they have perfected throughout the Sean Payton years. 

    Winston would be quite an improvement at right tackle over Zach Strief. 

    The left side could be improved with the addition of Sebastian Vollmer. Of course Vollmer benefited from blocking for Tom Brady his first four seasons in the league. Brady is equally adept in the pocket as Brees (or close). 

    In four seasons, he has given up just 11.5 sacks. And he did it without the help of many penalties. 

    Both players figure to make some money. Neither should come in with franchise tackle type salaries, though. And both would be an improvement at the respective position from a season ago. 

No. 1 NT Alan Branch/Sione Pouha

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    Alan Branch played pretty dang well in the Arizona Cardinals' 3-4 defense prior to heading to Seattle to play in Pete Carroll's 3-4-inspired scheme that lines up as a 4-3. In both locales, Branch excelled by plugging gaps and then shooting them when the opposition forgot about him. 

    That is exactly what Rob Ryan is looking for in a nose tackle. 

    Sione Pouha was a surprising cut of the New York Jets this offseason. Pouha was the most underrated defensive lineman in the league the past two seasons. He, of course, played in a 3-4 in New York with Rob's big(ger) brother, Rex. 

    No available player would better fit the defense Rob Ryan wants to install in New Orleans. It is quite surprising the Saints have not already signed him on the dotted line. The team hasn't even had him in for a visit. Why exactly?