3 former New Orleans Saints players we’d like revenge on this season
By Kristen Wong
Former Saints players we want revenge on – No. 1: Sheldon Rankins
Sheldon Rankins stayed loyal to the Saints for five seasons but chose to join the Jets this offseason. Out of all the teams he could have picked, we still don’t know why he chose New York (sorry Jets fans), but bet on New Orleans creaming his new team this season.
Rankins and the Saints go way back to a time when the Saints’ defense couldn’t slow an Oldsmobile in the mud. In his rookie season in 2016, when Rankins sat out due to injury, the team’s run defense allowed 110.7 rushing yards per game.
He returned, and the Saints yielded just 94.5 rushing yards per game after that. His impact continued next year when the Saints didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher for a streak of 55 games. 2017-2018 was peak Rankins, who started every regular-season game and helped cement the Saints’ defense into brick wall material.
But injuries constantly plagued his five-year career, and after bagging eight sacks in 2018, he tore his ACL. Then he found out he was especially prone to ankle issues. Then he suffered an unrelated knee injury in 2020. And so the story goes.
Since the 2018-19 season, Rankins only started one game but did have a 30 percent and 40 percent snap share for a 737 snap total. He’s accumulated 17.5 sacks and 44 quarterback hits in 63 games with New Orleans (plus five playoff appearances) and his departure leaves a gaping hole in defensive tackle and the hearts of longtime Saints fans.
Rankins recently spoke out about how excited he was to be on the Jets and how he was “ready to compete and really take this league by storm.” As much as New Orleans laughs and wishes him the best of luck with that, actions always speak louder than words.
Rankins joined former Saints special teams standout Justin Hardee on the Jets, giving New Orleans two more reasons to beat the Jets on their home turf. Rankins gave his best years to the Saints, and they’ll always be grateful for that, but this is a new chapter in the Saints era.
Nothing personal, just business.