How will the New Orleans Saints’ secondary look in 2021?
By Darral Nail
There are plenty of question marks in the New Orleans Saints‘ secondary. How will this unit look when the regular season kicks off in just a few weeks?
Earlier this summer, I pontificated upon the 53 players I felt were likely to comprise the Saints’ regular-season roster.
Working from the team’s offseason roster, I arrived at a list of 10 players who figured to make up the team’s defensive backfield, consisting of five cornerbacks and five safeties.
Since that time, the secondary at large has seen roster churn brought about by injuries, position changes, and players being released.
Additionally, the team has added at least a couple of veteran and (theoretically) starting-caliber corners. Despite all of these efforts, what was true in May remains true today. The Saints have no actual answer for the outside cornerback position opposite Marshon Lattimore.
Current New Orleans Saints roster offers more questions than answers
Prince Amukamara could be part of the answer. A criminally underrated man coverage corner throughout his lengthy NFL career, the 32-year-old Amukamara could reasonably be seen as a competent stop-gap option as CB2 in the upcoming season.
Fellow signee Brian Poole figures to factor into the equation as well, either by providing a veteran presence on the field side or (more likely) in freeing up Patrick Robinson from his slot duties so that P-Rob can chip in on the outside.
The dream scenario for Saints fans would be for rookie Paulson Adebo to ascend to the role as Lattimore’s full-time counterpart.
The opposite of the above scenario would likely include Ken Crawley reclaiming his starting spot as the team’s number two corner.
Among the options listed above, some could be seen as most desirable and others perhaps more likely. However, what becomes quickly apparent is the level of uncertainty surrounding the number two cornerback spot for the New Orleans Saints with a month left until the regular season begins.
Projecting New Orleans Saints secondary makeup in 2021
In an attempt to make some sense of the moving parts, I offer a best guess of how the defensive backfield might look when the smoke clears:
- Marshon Lattimore
- Patrick Robinson
- Brian Poole
- Prince Amakamura
- Paulson Adebo
- Ken Crawley
- Marcus Williams
- Malcolm Jenkins
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
- J.T. Gray
- Bryce Thompson
Based on experience within the system, and the fact that he has played quite well on the outside when given the chance, I elect to grant top non-Lattimore cornerback billing to Patrick Robinson, who I feel represents the most likely week 1 starter among the currently rostered options.
However, Amakamura is certainly a name to watch in the CB2 sweepstakes. Though the former Giant and Bear did not see the regular season playing field last year, he was nonetheless entering the final season of a 3-year, $27 million contract after starting 42 of 44 games played for Chicago dating back to 2017.
Given the possible disciplinary action looming for Lattimore, Robinson and Amakamura might find themselves together in the Saints starting lineup sooner than later.