Free Agency: Breaking down the remaining Defensive Ends
By Ty Anania
The New Orleans Saints are in the market for a pass rusher. Unfortunately, that free agent group is far from deep.
There were some intriguing names at DE heading into the offseason. Any one of Melvin Ingram, Jason Pierre-Paul, or Chandler Jones could have had a huge impact on this New Orleans Saints roster.
But after the Chargers, Giants, and Cardinals placed the franchise tag on their free agent pass rushers, there’s little left to fight over for the remaining teams in need. The Saints have been looking for a DE starter to play opposite Cam Jordan for some time. Any of these could have been the answer. Alas.
That’s not to say that there’s no one left for the Saints to sign. But the players remaining are far from inspiring. Outside of Calais Campbell, there really isn’t anyone worth getting excited about. And Campbell is 30 years old.
Who Dat Dish has broken down some of the remaining rushers in earlier segments. I’ll throw them all together here, with some new breakdowns, so you have a comprehensive list of who’s left on the market.
Green Bay’s Nick Perry is a strong yet uncreative defensive end who racked up 11 sacks in 2016. But before you get excited, I’ll add this. If he’s expecting to get paid like an 11 sack pass rusher, the Saints should look elsewhere.
11 sacks is an impressive number. And in a league so thirsty for disruptive pass rushers, it’s a number that can land you a big contract. The Saints are looking to be aggressive in free agency, and wouldn’t necessarily shy away from spending big on a worthy DE.
But Nick Perry is hardly worthy of the money that he’s likely to get.
While Perry did have a very solid season, those 11 sacks are inflated numbers. Many of them came when Perry was lined up across from tight ends, or in the closing moments of already decided games. A few sacks on last-ditch Hail Mary’s. A few on flushed pockets, assisted by pressure elsewhere down the line.
Naturally, all sack numbers are somewhat inflated. He’s still a solid DE, and would be an upgrade over who the Saints have at the moment. If they can get him at a reasonable price, then they should pull the trigger. He’d help. He’s strong and reasonably athletic. But if he wants top dollar, the Saints would be better off sticking with Nick Fairley and looking toward the draft and the bargain aisle for DE help.
But despite his strength, he’s also uncreative. He falls back on bull-rushes and the like. He doesn’t have true bend to get around the edge, and totally lacks any pass-rush arsenal. His spin is slow. He doesn’t use his hands all too well. If he wants top dollar, the Saints would be better off sticking with Nick Fairley and looking toward the draft and the bargain aisle for DE help.
There’s one more thing to consider with Perry: 2016 was his breakout year. A former first round pick in 2012, Perry failed to live up to his billing in his first four years. The Packers declined his player option in 2016 and resigned him to a one-year prove-it deal.
Well, Perry did prove it. But the question is, is this the blip in his career, his final effort for a big contract, or a real improvement?