Saints: 4 remaining free agents with connections to New Orleans

Kwon Alexander, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Kwon Alexander, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints.
Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

4. Kenny Vaccaro

This one’s the least likely to happen.

Kenny Vaccaro was the Saints’ first-round pick in 2013 and spent the first six years of his pro career there. He’s never earned Pro Bowl or All-Pro honors but did start his rookie season with NOLA off strong, finishing third in the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year voting.

As a safety, his versatility outshines his ability to cover the pass, and he posted a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 64 or higher just once in his career. There were signs he wasn’t the most, er, responsible either, when he angered Drew Brees in practice by slapping the ball out of Brees’ hand or when he served a four-game suspension in 2016 for a positive Adderall test.

The Saints desperately wished for Vaccaro’s breakthrough, but throw in a couple of season-ruining injuries, and it never came. New Orleans ended up drafting two second-round safeties, Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, who all but seemed like Vaccaro’s replacements.

And Vaccaro got the message.

Before signing with the Titans in 2018, Vaccaro told ESPN, “I love the Saints, my teammates and coaches, but it’s a business and I have sacrificed too much to not go get paid and be able to keep providing for my family. That’s just the way it is sometimes.”

An ever-so-slight chip on the shoulder, that is.

During his three years at Tennessee, Vaccaro enjoyed a slight buoy in form playing with All-Pro free safety Kevin Byard to create one of the stronger defensive tandems. He enters free agency in 2021 and at the still ripe age of 29, the Saints could use a seasoned and uber-playable safety like him. Vaccaro has accumulated 610 tackles, ten interceptions, 11.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles, and his tactical versatility made him especially effective as a defensive pawn played anywhere on the field.

Whether New Orleans puts him as safety or closer to the line of scrimmage as a pseudo-linebacker, Vaccaro still has enough fuel left in the tank to make a veteran impact. Odds aren’t high that he and the Saints can come around to a mutual agreement after all that’s happened, but it’s still worth a phone call.