It’ll be the last home game of the New Orleans Saints 2015 season when they take on the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
While the team’s campaign will end as an overall disappointment, the reality is that some of the beloved players fans have grown accustomed to seeing in black and gold for so long could be playing in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd for the last time.
The Saints have over 20 scheduled free agents ready to hit the market after the season is over. I’ve talked at length about 10 Saints players that could be gone in 2016, and I have to echo a similar sentiment for long time players who might be playing their last game in New Orleans.
Marques Colston, Jahri Evans , and Zach Strief – 3 huge staples from 2006 until now – are not givens to return to the New Orleans Saints in 2016. While all three are under contract next season, their monetary impact may have them leave the Big Easy.
Jan 14, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints tackle Zach Strief (64), and guard Jahri Evans (73) line up for a play against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter of the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park. San Francisco defeated New Orleans 36-32. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports
Of the three, the most likely player that remains with the team is Evans. His unfriendly contract, which is the 4th highest figure on the team in 2016, makes him the league’s highest paid guard next year at $8.2 million. He’ll be guaranteed money whether the Saints part with him or not, and only offer up $1.1 million in savings. It’s not like the Saints have a grand succession plan for Evans, as the team has current guards Mike McGlynn (UFA), Senio Kelemete (RFA), and Tim Lelito (RFA) heading for free agency. So, in a sense, Evans is the only guard returning to the Saints in 2016.
As for Strief, the Andrus Peat at guard experiment is likely over, which makes it interesting on who will be the team’s starting right tackle in 2016. Peat was originally drafted as the heir to Strief’s spot, and fits the mold of a dedicated tackle better than a guard. Strief has lost countless battles off the edge, which has led to more than a few Drew Brees sacks, hits, and pressures.
For Colston, unfortunately he’ll not get the chance to play (chest injury) in front of the Superdome faithful. He needs only 241 receiving yards in the last two games to go over 10,000 yards for his career. It would be a real shame to see him come up just short.
As more rumors and speculation build for head coach Sean Payton’s future, we look to the Jacksonville Jaguars matchup today. I recently caught up with Daniel Lago of Black and Teal, which is our FanSided affiliate that covers the Jaguars. We exchanged questions on the upcoming matchup.
Next: Inside the Jaguars