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) /

LB Alex Anzalone

The Saints told you all you needed to know about how they felt about Alex Anzalone by trading for linebacker Kwon Alexander at the trade deadline.

Alexander is a much more athletic player than Anzalone, and when he came into the lineup, New Orleans defense was a) much better covering the middle of the field and b) simply better overall. You may point to strength of opposing offenses, but that was rather consistent throughout the season.

Anzalone isn’t a liability in coverage, though he hasn’t particularly stood out. He allowed a 77.8 percent catch rate and 118.8 passer rating in 2020, and his tackle issues (12.8 percent) are issues when it comes to allowing yardage after the catch.

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He also hasn’t played more than 40 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in a season and was practically hurt for all of the 2017 and 2019 seasons.

Since he has clear issues in run support, isn’t very athletic, and proved to be a downgrade to Kwon Alexander downs the stretch, it isn’t likely that Anzalone will return.

At the same time, Alexander is likely to be cut, so New Orleans may want to retain Anzalone as a cheaper depth option. Having depth in pass coverage is important, and since Anzalone is competent in that regard, it wouldn’t hurt to retain him if his injury issues cause teams to overlook him, similarly to Rankins.

Also, since he has only been healthy for two seasons, a case can be made he hasn’t been given his fair shot, considering that linebackers tend to accumulate to the NFL later than other positions.

Chances He’s Back: Very Low

Recommended Contract: One Year, $3 Million

Should He Be Back? Probably Not