The New Orleans Saints got some bad news on Friday when it was announced that defensive tackle David Onyemata would miss six games this year after violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.
Per Kevin Patra of NFL.com,
"The 28-year-old defensive tackle is one of the Saints’ key defenders. He’s started 30 games the past two seasons as the club’s DT. In his five-year career in New Orleans, Onyemata has compiled 16 sacks while gobbling up 167 tackles.One of the top interior defenders in the NFL, Onyemata can penetrate, crumple pockets and take on double teams. His 46 QB pressures last season ranked 13th among all defensive interior players, per Pro Football Focus."
With Onyemata out of the lineup, the Saints are in a tough spot. They no longer have Sheldon Rankins, who signed with the Jets this offseason, and Trey Hendrickson is gone as well, signing with the Bengals in free agency.
This leaves the Saints with Cameron Jordan, Shy Tuttle, and Marcus Davenport upfront. Maybe this propels rookie first-round pick, Peyton Turner, into the starting lineup or perhaps undrafted wonder Malcolm Roach can step up and prove he’s worthy of being a starter. Tanoh Kpassagnon is also someone to keep an eye on with this situation emerging. Don’t forget about UDFA wonder Carl Granderson either, as he’s certainly someone who can go on a tear defensively.
The New Orleans Saints won’t have David Onyemata for six games in 2021.
This is an unfortunate situation for sure and the Saints’ defense will suffer a major blow as a result. Onyemata was going to be a big part of the Saints’ d-line and without him, they’re going to have to find someone to fill that gap.
This means that the Saints won’t have Onyemata for games against the Packers, Panthers, Patriots, Giants, Football Team, and Seahawks. He’ll return for Week 7 against the Buccaneers, so at least they’ll have him back for that game, which is going to be a huge factor in determining if the Saints have any shot to win the NFC South.
It’s unfortunate that New Orleans will be without Onyemata but it’s in the past now and Onyemata can’t go back and redo his mistakes. The Saints have to get by without him for their first six games and while that’ll be a challenge, this team has had their fair share of star players removed from the starting lineup and persevered.
Fear not, Saints fans.