3 big-name Free Agent targets for the New Orleans Saints in 2018

mdmellow
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks on during the Saints' game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints looks on during the Saints' game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /
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LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 25:
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 25: /

Telvin Smith – Will Linebacker

This is my dream free agent pick of the 2018 class. We’ve all seen how effective this Saints team can be with strong play from the WLB.

Dannell Ellerbe has served the Saints well at that position when healthy. The problem is that he rarely is healthy. He has missed 17 games in two seasons with the Saints.

When Ellerbe is able to play, the defense looks like a different team. He’s constantly flying around the field, crowding the ball and creating turnovers.

Telvin Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars is another player who has the same kind of impact on games, only more consistently.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 08: Chris Ivory
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 08: Chris Ivory /

Last season, Smith used his 4.5s speed and instinctive play to amass 118 tackles, 8 pass breakups and 2 interceptions.

He has also shown some ability to rush the passer, as evidenced by his 5.5 sacks over the first three years of his career.

Telvin Smith is exactly the kind of playmaker that this Saints defense needs. They are in dire need of consistent, explosive play from the middle of the defense to take some of the burden off a young defensive backfield.

He also clearly stands out as a passionate and vocal defensive leader, something the Saints haven’t truly experienced since the days of Jon Vilma.

4-3 outside linebackers are slightly undervalued currently, with the five highest-paying contracts at the position averaging just over $9.5million per year (via OverTheCap).

That means if Smith earns a top five, or even top three contract for his position, the Saints could get a bonafide game-changing LB for around $10 million a year.

As for the likelihood of Smith re-signing with the Jags? Well he doesn’t exactly sound over the moon about his team.

Back in May he hung around after the team’s fourth OTA session to speak with the media. He sounded frustrated, stating;

I just think as a team, we should be further than we are.’

After only 11 combined wins in his first three seasons, who could blame him?

JACKSONVILLE, FL – AUGUST 28: Telvin Smith
JACKSONVILLE, FL – AUGUST 28: Telvin Smith /

Maybe a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Conveniently, Dannell Ellerbe will become an unrestricted free agent next year, potentially opening the door for a Smith signing.

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