Must keeps: The defense
David Onyemata, DL: The former 2016 4th-Round Draft pick out of Canada has become the best defensive tackle on the team. He’s an unsung hero and a huge reason why the Saints are so good against the run.
His ability to take on two blocks at a time is something that won’t show up on the stat sheet but is an extremely valuable attribute nonetheless. Not to mention he brings a good amount of pressure on pass plays from the inside when given the opportunity.
Onyemata will definitely have a good market if he were to test free agency, so the Saints will most likely have to pay a good amount to keep the big man in New Orleans.
He’s a leader on this team almost always playing 100% of the defensive snaps, even when not fully healthy. He’s grown into a phenomenal player and the Saints need to do whatever it takes to retain him.
J.T. Gray, DB: The Second Team All-Pro was outstanding on special teams this season and should continue to be in New Orleans for years to come. He’s an ERFA, but the Saints might want to look at locking him up to a long term deal.
Justin Hardee, DB: Another special teams ace, Hardee rarely sees snaps on defense, but is extremely important to the team. He’s an RFA but like Gray, the Saints should look to lock him up if possible.
A.J. Klein, LB: A very solid starting outside linebacker, Klein has been a starter with the Saints for three years now since coming over from the Carolina Panthers. He does a lot of good things for this defense and I would love to see the Saints bring him back.
Add the injury to Kiko Alonso and this move seems more than likely. The Saints could go with a cheaper option in the draft, but re-signing Klein seems like a no brainer to me.
Zach Wood, LS: When a long snapper goes unnoticed throughout an entire season, you know he’s doing a great job. An RFA, there’s no point in messing with the trust and comfort level kicker Wil Lutz has built with Wood. No reason not to re-sign him.