Saints Free Agency Period Grades and Thoughts

You can expect me to write more regarding the NFL off-season since there really isn’t much else to write about right now. The NFL Free Agency period blasted off to a white hot start and it feels much like the NBA off-season so far…plenty of movement and drama.

The NFC South has made some notable moves across the board with the Buccaneers striking gold obtaining The GOAT, Tom Brady. The Falcons released Devonta Freeman and signed Todd Gurley. The Panthers were able to take Teddy Bridgewater from the Saints. I am sad about that one. I will start there before writing about the Saints.

It was inevitable that Teddy would be out the door after the way he played during his 5-game stretch as a starter if Brees resumed his role. He earned every dollar of that contract. It sucks to lose a solid quarterback, but even more so an amazing locker room guy who loved this city and it was reciprocated. Despite the fact, it is the Carolina Panthers, I hope he and the Panthers do well.

Re-sign QB Drew Brees

Contract: 2-year, $50 million 

I have written column after column about the Saints with Drew Brees. I have my reservations about him and it’s not because of talent. I don’t know if Brees or Payton is more to blame for the Saints knack for getting pass happy in games that matter and losing said games. As much I would have loved to see Teddy take over and let Brees walk for play-calling sake, he is still near the top when he’s at his best. I was happy to see him take a pay cut substantial though. For that alone, this deal is great for the Saints. His contract is well below market value (14th highest paid QB). Hopefully some of the signings pay off.

Hotard Huddle Grade: A+

Re-sign OG Andrus Peat

Contract: 5-year, $57 million ($33 million guaranteed)

The reality is the guard market was thin this off-season. While many Saints fans loathe Peat, he certainly isn’t bad. He just isn’t great. The downside is injuries and inconsistency. One of the common opinions I am seeing is how bad he played against Minnesota, that needs to be written off. The play calling was miserable. 36 dropbacks to 12 rushing attempts where Brees turned around and handed it off. He had to try and stop Danielle Hunter who is one of the league’s biggest pressure creators. If you’re in that camp of blaming Peat, you’re wrong. It is hard to stop someone when they know they can go full Nascar, pin their ears back and go because your play-calling is ass water.

The upside is he can play multiple spots on the line and play them well allowing some flexibility with him. The part I hate is the price. I think for his production and reliability, he is getting overpaid. It was one case where your hand is forced due to lack of draft capital and thin market.

Hotard Huddle Grade: C+

Re-sign DT David Onyemata

Contract: 3-year, $27 million

New Orleans run defense has been one of the league’s best the last two years. When injuries have been a plague to the defensive line, Onyemata has been one of the guys always suited up on gameday. He is still relatively young at 27 so this doesn’t hurt the Saints much in length and the price is worth the admission. He’s been reliable both in health and play on the field.

Hotard Huddle Grade: A

Re-sign LS Zach Wood

Contract: 4-year, $4.78 million

The Saints kicking game is one of the best with Will Lutz and Thomas Morstead. However, someone has to snap the ball to make those things possible. That is Zach Wood who has filled his role well as a long snapper. Easy re-sign.

Hotard Huddle Grade: A+

Tendered (1st Round) Taysom Hill

What it means: Hill is a restricted free agent so teams can negotiate, but the Saints have the right to match the offer. Should they not, that team has to give the Saints their 1st round pick

I am not in the camp of Taysom Hill is the future. He is 29 and has a long history of injuries when he was a full time starter at BYU. His style of play will get him murdered if he is the starting QB. Be the do-it-all playmaker. With Brees back, it is a forgone conclusion he will be. Putting a first round tender on him ensures no one will touch him so the Saints played this perfectly.

Hotard Huddle Grade: A+

Safety Malcolm Jenkins Returns

Contract: 4-year, $32 million ($16.5 million guaranteed)

I was disappointed when the Saints let go of Jenkins after drafting him. Sean Payton has been vocal about his regret letting him walk which led to them signing Jarius Byrd to a disastrous contract. However, Jenkins found his stride as an upper tier safety in Philly. Hopefully age won’t catch up too quickly and he can still be a big factor in replacing Von Bell who had a knack for finding loose footballs last season. I am excited to see him back in the black and gold. However, giving a 32-year-old good but not great safety 4 years and that money, meh.

Hotard Huddle Grade: B+

Receiver Emmanuel Sanders, A NUMBER TWO RECEIVER!

Contract: 2-year, $16 million

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This may be my favorite free agent move the Saints have made in the last 4-5 years. This has been a glaring need for the Saints the last three years since losing Brandin Cooks.

Saints Second Best Receiver Combined Totals, Last 3 Years

  • 81 receptions, 1,212 yards 10 TDs

Michael Thomas Last 3 Years

  • 149 receptions, 1,729 yards and 9 TDs
  • 125 receptions, 1,405 yards and 9 TDs
  • 105 receptions, 1,245 yards and 5 TDs

 

This tells you all you need to know about how bad the Saints need a number two and now they have one.

Hotard Huddle Grade: A+

Final Thoughts

Overall the Saints have made some solid splashes this year. They addressed a major need on the offense. Looking at the list, there is not much to raise eyebrows about including the Peat contract. Yes, it is a little too much money. However, the market was thin and you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Be damned for doing it and getting a quality starter back.

Normally, I am not the one who blows sunshine and rainbows up the Saints ass. However, it’s hard to find the negatives in many of the moves made thus far.

 

 

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