Free Agents Saints Should Pursue After 2021 NFL DraftMay 12, 2021
Free Agents Saints Should Pursue After 2021 NFL Draft
The New Orleans Saints have an abundance of quarterbacks on their roster to replace Drew Brees, but questions remain if they have ample wide receivers for the new starter to target.
New Orleans has a plethora of young wide receivers sitting beneath Michael Thomas on the depth chart, but none of them are as proven as Emmanuel Sanders, who left for the Buffalo Bills in free agency.
Sean Payton’s side did not draft a wide receiver in the 2021 NFL draft until the seventh round. That leaves open the possibility for the Saints to go after an experienced wideout in free agency.
Even though the team addressed its defensive needs with its first three draft picks, it could afford to dip into the defensive market if the right fit emerges.
Kenny Stills makes sense as a good fit after spending his first two seasons with the Saints in 2013 and 2014.
In those two seasons, the seven-year pro recorded two of his four highest receiving yard seasons. In fact, the best season of his career came with New Orleans in 2014, when he earned 931 yards off 63 receptions.
Stills’ production dipped last season with the Houston Texans, but he did put up over 500 yards in 2018 and 2019.
The Saints return one of their three top receivers from 2020 in the form of running back Alvin Kamara, but Sanders and Jared Cook both departed in free agency.
Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway and others looked good in spurts while Thomas was sidelined, but nobody seized a starting role as the veterans took over the bulk of the production.
If the Saints do not feel comfortable with their crop of young wideouts, they could look to Stills on a one-year deal to bridge the gap between Thomas and the younger players.
Bringing in a veteran of the 29-year-old's caliber makes the most sense since the Saints should try to develop Smith, Callaway and Co. to eventually fill the depth behind Thomas.
The Saints could use another veteran in the middle of the defensive line to help out David Onyemata.
Beau Allen opted out of the 2020 season, so he will come into the 2021 campaign with fresh legs. Most importantly, he would likely come in on a cap-friendly deal.
The 29-year-old was not an overpowering presence in his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he does have 117 career tackles and 14 tackles for loss.
The defensive tackle could be a solid rotational piece to pair with younger defensive tackles on the roster, and his experience on winning teams could benefit the Saints as a whole.
Just like at wideout, the Saints could throw full trust into Jalen Dalton, Josiah Brunson and others underneath Onyemata, but it never hurts to have a veteran presence coming into training camp.
Nickell Robey-Coleman may not be the first defensive back that Saints fans want to see added in free agency. He was the cornerback involved in the botched pass-interference call in the 2019 NFC Championship Game while playing for the Los Angeles Rams.
However, the 29-year-old would fill a valuable role in the secondary, especially if third-round pick Paulson Adebo needs to get up to speed.
The concern with the Stanford product is that he did not play in 2020 and dealt with injuries during his time in the college game, which forced him to drop from a potential first-round selection to Day 2.
Robey-Coleman spent last season with the Eagles and started seven games for the NFC East side. He signed a one-year deal last offseason and could be in line for a similar contract and role if the Saints need to add some veteran depth there.
Sean Payton and his staff should consider that because of the difficult matchups the Saints face in the NFC South. Atlanta added Kyle Pitts to Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones; Tampa Bay brought back all of its receiving talent; and Carolina has a solid one-two punch in Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore.
If the Saints want to be competitive with those sides while they work through their quarterback transition, they need as much help as possible in the secondary.
Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.