Depth, depth and more depth for New Orleans coming your way. Part two of one pick and one signing for the Saints this offseason.
We are 23 days away from the beginning of NFL free agency, and 66 days away from the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Both events will come to us much quicker than expected.
That means the preparation for such events is in full swing. Mock drafts, war room prep, setting up the perfect meeting to pitch to potential free agent bombshell signing. The New Orleans Saints, like every season, are falling into line.
Upgrades are needed on both sides of the ball, despite a fantastic 2017 Season. That’s music to the ears of Saints fans, though. “Upgrades” are much better than “problem-solvers,” which the Saints defense faced nearly every offseason since at least 2006.
Partly due to injuries, and partly due to overall lack of talent, the linebacking corps for New Orleans needs improvement. At the very least, acquiring depth will help move the team even further in the right direction. The receiving corps is led by Pro Bowler Michael Thomas. However, after him, there’s not much, leading to more depth needs. Both areas are addressed in today’s edition of one pick and one signing.
The pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Here’s where help with the linebackers comes into play. Tremaine Edmunds is a junior backer out of Virginia Tech, and could go in the top-10 this draft. The 6-foot, 5-inch massive linebacker has ties to the Saints. His brother, Trey, is New Orleans’ third string running back and special teams stand out.
Tremaine stands out on the other side of the ball. During his junior, and final, college season, Edmunds accumulated 108 tackles and 5.5 sacks, making him a Butkus Award finalist. Stand out performances include his 14 tackle, 1.5 sack against Delaware in week 2, and his 2 sack outing against rival Virginia towards the tail end of the year.
The current list of Saints linebackers is a jumble. You have starters A.J. Klein and Alex Anzalone. Both got hurt (Anzalone in week 4 was lost for the rest of the season), and Klein struggled often. Klein is a veteran and has promise as a leader. Anzalone thrives as a rookie, and has promise. Both leave more to be desired.
Behind them is Manti Te’o, who was able to shine in Klein’s place towards the tail end of last season. However, Te’o, combined with the aging Craig Robertson and the other two starters, doesn’t make enough of a productive lineup for the Saints to stay consistently elite on defense.
Edmunds could fix most problems right off the bat. He thrives in a 4-3 defensive scheme, which the Saints run. Playing opposite the athletic Anzalone and near the potential-leader in Klein will provide aggression and grit to compliment the finesse. Will he be available at 27? It’s up in the air at this point. Some mocks have him going 11th to Miami. Some to Detroit. But, it depends on if scouts favor the SEC backers in this draft class over the ACC legend in Edmunds.
The signing: Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Saints are fortunate enough to have a steal in Michael Thomas. He was a second round pick, and has become a superstar in just his second season. He has become more than a reliable and number one target for Drew Brees. But, the Saints’ receiving corps is lacking after Thomas.
Hitting the market this summer is a 5’ 11”, 210-pound, fellow-second-round pick in 2014. Best part? His alma mater is LSU, and he went to high school just 47 miles away from New Orleans. Of course I’m talking about Jarvis Landry, the immensely talented wide receiver from the Dolphins.
Through his first four seasons, Landry has 400 catches, by far the record for most receptions in a player’s first four years. He’s also tied with Odell Beckham Jr for most receptions through three seasons. Landry has over 4,00 career yards and 23 total touchdowns. Talk about impressive.
All of this was done with Ryan Tannehill, Matt Moore, and Jay Cutler under center. Imagine how great he can be, even as a “second option,” with Brees throwing him the ball. Landry would replace the production of both Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead combined, and both may exit the team. With Ted Ginn Jr as the deep threat still, this receiving corps would be nearly unstoppable.
There’s just two concerns with Landry coming to the team. The first is his fumbling issue. He’s lost the ball 14 times throughout his career, seven alone in his rookie campaign. Last season he had four, and that’s a quality Sean Payton does not like at all. Coleman could not return strictly for his fumbling problems.
The second concern is the size of Landry’s future contract. Super stars get paid big time in this league. Historically great super stars get paid even better, and that’s where Landry fits in. He may be looking for anywhere from $14-$16 million per year, putting him around the top-5 highest paid receiver list.
The Saints will have about $31 million in cap space this offseason. If $15 million goes to Landry, certainly the same amount or more will have to go to Brees to retain him. That would cuff the Saints, unless they made major moves. So, unless Landry takes a major pay cut to return home and play, it’s unlikely to happen at all.
However, it’s still nice to hope and want Landry on the Saints. He would be an absolutely improvement. He and Thomas would form one of the best one-two punches in the history of the league. With Hall of Famer Brees, a deadly trio would wreck havoc among the NFL. For now, though, it’s just a dream. Keep your eyes peeled for Landry to at least consider the Saints, at least.