Analyzing the Saints’ elite defense heading into free agency
Marcus Williams is one of the best safeties in the NFL, as displayed here:
Unfortunately, due to their financial situations, the Saints likely blew their chance to retain Williams.
He’s just 24-years-old and is so productive in coverage that there will be a major market for his services, so unless they clear room and are able to keep him somehow, they will have to depart with a potential building block; I’d much rather have seen them extend Williams than Alvin Kamara, Andrus Peat, and Davis.
Malcolm Jenkins profiles a traditional box safety, but New Orleans will certainly need someone to replace Williams as a rangy over-the-top safety, even if it is almost guaranteed to be a downgrade.
On the bright side, the safety market is generally low, making it easy to find strong values. If former Colt Malik Hooker really only receives the $2 million he is projected for, then he would such a valuable signing. Meanwhile, Tavon Wilson, Tre Boston, Rayshawn Jenkins, Jalen Mills, and Damarious Randall should also be affordable.
In the draft, there is some interesting depth at safety. Perhaps the Saints use their first-round pick on TCU’s Trevon Moehrig, who would immediately replace Williams as a rangy playmaker.
However, a cheaper route would be to look at Oregon’s Jevon Holland, who can play free safety or nickel cornerback and will likely be available in the second round. Later on, San Diego State’s Tariq Thompson, Illinois’ Jamar Johnson, Georgia’s Richard LeCounte, and Oregon’s Brady Breeze would be advisable targets as pure coverage players.
The Saints not only need to replace Williams, but also add depth beyond the replacement. Losing Williams is a massive blow, but that is the cost of committing money to less-valuable players. They’ll have to attack the free agency market and draft to try to find value.