The biggest swing Saints could take at defensive end

Entering free agency, the New Orleans Saints need to find a quality edge defender. Who is the biggest player the team can target this offseason?
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Michael Owens/GettyImages

A priority for the New Orleans Saints this offseason is adding to their edge defender group. The team still has a veteran Cam Jordan, as well as a Carl Granderson, who seems to be getting better every season. Still, the pass rush, and overall defensive line play isn’t where the Saints want it to be.

In 2023, New Orleans recorded just 34 sacks, ranking them 28th in the NFL. To make matters worse, Demario Davis, an off-ball linebacker, was second on the team in sacks with 6.5. Additionally, the Saints gave up 119.9 rushing yards a game, 22nd in the league. The team clearly needs to add an edge defender that’s good against the run and can get after the quarterback.

Currently in possession of the 14th-overall pick, there’s a chance that New Orleans could land a player like Dallas Turner in the draft. However, the Saints’ best chance at upgrading the edge position may come in free agency. Who’s the best edge defender that New Orleans can go after this offseason?

After a look at the free agent landscape, as well as the Saints’ cap situation, the biggest swing New Orleans could take at the defensive end position is going after Chase Young this offseason.

Saints should pursue Chase Young in free agency

The 2020 second-overall pick is set to be a free agent for the first time in his career. Many people will be quick to point out that Young isn’t what he once was. After starting his career with a Pro Bowl season as a rookie, the defensive end has been challenged by injuries that have kept him from his potential. However, he can still help the Saints.

After playing 12 total games in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Young played 16 total games in 2023. In those games, suiting up with the Washington Commanders and the San Francisco 49ers, Chase Young recorded 25 tackles, seven for a loss, 7.5 sacks, and 15 quarterback hits. Additionally, he’s only turning 25 this offseason, which means he has plenty of time to get his career back on the promising track that it started on.

It’ll best serve Young to sign a one-year prove it deal, and that’s something New Orleans can afford. Young would have the opportunity to prove that he deserves to be a high-paid edge defender, and the Saints would have a motivated defender outplaying his contract. If everything goes well, New Orleans may be able to lock in Young long term. It simply makes a ton of sense for the Saints to go after Young.