Analyzing the New Orleans Saints pending free agents

Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Players Who Shouldn’t Be Back No Matter What

It is difficult to ever close the gap on any free agent, but I don’t see much reason for the following players to be back:

  1. TE Jared Cook: Cook combined for around 1300 receiving yards in his two seasons as a Saint, but the 34-year-old was rather inconsistent. He is also coming off a season in which he averaged just 33 receiving yards per game and played under 50% of the team’s snaps in a majority of the games; there is little reason to suggest he’ll be back, and it would be wise for the team to give 2020 third-round pick Adam Trautman a chance to be the premier tight end.
  2. CB PJ Williams and Ken Crawley: Williams played slightly better at safety this season. However, he still allowed 11.2 yards/target, has allowed a passer rating over 100 for the past three seasons, and his high missed tackle rates lead to extra yardage being gained after the catch. Crawley, meanwhile, hasn’t been active much since the 2018 season.
  3. FB Michael Burton: It’s hard to believe the Saints, given their limited resources, are going to prioritize retaining a fullback.

This all aligns with the theme of getting younger. The Saints aren’t likely to be an elite team next year, and likely will be looking towards the future. To do so, they need to give opportunities to younger players, and parting way with these four veterans will help them do just that.

Even if it means giving snaps to late-round draftees and undrafted free agents, they need to do whatever they can to identify competent, cost-controlled players who can help them wiggle out of their tough situation.