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) /

EDGE Trey Hendrickson

Now, we get to the Saints’ three premier pending free agents.

Trey Hendrickson is a great example of a) the importance of having opportunities for depth players to contribute, b) the developmental curve of young players and c) the importance of having a lot of mid-round selections.

A third-round pick in 2017 out of FAU, the 26-year-old showed flashes in his first three years of the league but wasn’t seen as much more than a decent rotational pass rusher.

Then, 2020 happened. With Marcus Davenport dealing with an injury, Hendrickson took advantage of his extra playing time, totaling 13.5 sacks and 33 pressures. For reference, that is more than his previous two seasons combined.

This breakout could simply be described as Hendrickson finally getting. a chance to produce, and since there is a steep learning curve to the NFL level, that would make sense.

Z’Darius Smith and Dee Ford are recent examples of fourth-year breakouts that have proven to be legitimate, and since edge-rush production is rather stable, there is a lot to suggest Hendrickson has emerged as a true impact force.

On the other hand, it is also worth noting that he benefitted greatly from his situation. Playing alongside Cameron Jordan and David Onyemata, he was only the team’s third-best defensive lineman, and also had the luxury of playing with Davenport and a healthy collection of interior defenders outside of Onyemata.

In other words, he perhaps had more opportunities to generate pressure and accumulate cleanup sacks than others. Also, since the NFL is a small sample size sport, you always want to be weary of breakouts, as the best way to project a player’s future performance is to look at their total body of work.

I’m on board with idea that Hendrickson is a starting-caliber edge rusher, though he isn’t a player I’d be comfortable paying $10+ million for, particularly considering the limited value of edge rushers/defensive linemen in the modern NFL and the lack of value they provide on second contracts.

Also, Davenport is likely a better player than Hendrickson with more consistency and a more well-rounded skill set, making it even less likely Hendrickson will be back, which is likely for the best: Hendrickson can continue to prosper with a starting role for another organization, while the Saints find better value elsewhere and receive a compensatory pick.

Chances He’s Back: Low

Recommended Contract: I Don’t See a Match Whatsoever

Should He Back? Definitely Not at His Likely Asking Price