The Saints got a nice little bonus with Drew Brees’ restructured contract, and if they can, they should use it to pay Trey Hendrickson, not Marcus Williams.
This offseason will be telling for the Saints and what they value moving forward. They have two young studs that are about to hit the market, and they likely won’t be able to clear enough cap space without drastic moves to keep them both
Trey Hendrickson is one of those young prospects that will be available for other teams. While he was rather unknown until this season, Hendrickson quickly showcased his improved pass-rushing skills and became a force to be reckoned with.
He finished as one of the league’s top sack leaders. In his fourth year in the league, the 26-year-old finished with 13.5 sacks and three multi-sack games. That’s good enough to be one of the top-paid defensive ends on the NFL.
With a $100 million salary cap problem, the Saints, even with Brees saving them $24 million, won’t have the space for a big-time contract like that.
Mickey Loomis is a cap-space wizard though, so with the right moves, they could open it up. It would take plenty of restructured contracts and not bringing back the likes of Jared Cook or Sheldon Rankins as well.
Another player they couldn’t re-sign if they were to take a chance on Hendrickson’s long-term potential is safety Marcus Williams. Williams was among the top under-25 players in the league at the start of the 2020 season.
The 6-foot-1 24-year-old had a solid season, playing in 100 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in all but three games.
Williams finished the season with 59 tackles, 7 passes defended, and 3 interceptions. While it wasn’t his best season, it was consistent with his previous performances which put him on that list of elite young prospects.
Playing alongside an ironman in Malcolm Jenkins, replacing Williams in the draft should be a better situation for the Saints than hoping Marcus Davenport sees the same type of breakout season as Hendrickson.
Williams is a solid player, but in a pass-heavy league, there are going to be teams that pay top dollar for the young safety. That said, given their pay and the team’s set up entering the offseason, it would be better to pay Hendrickson and hopefully snag the draft’s best safety with the No. 28 overall pick.
Either way, the Saints, unless they can get a player like Mac Jones, should target one of these two positions with their first-round pick.