The Saints lost the one player they needed to re-sign, but they misused him anyway

The New Orleans Saints recently lost a talented player in free agency. If the Saints used him right, he probably would still be with the team.
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Free agency is here, kind of. On Monday, the legal tampering period for 2024 NFL free agency started. During this period, teams are allowed to negotiate and agree to deals with free agents, but no deals can be made official until free agency actually starts on Wednesday, March 14. Still, there were several massive deals agreed to on Monday.

The New Orleans Saints didn’t make any splashy moves, though they did sign linebacker Demario Davis to a new deal. However, the biggest free agency news on day one surrounding the Saints had to do with the departures. Defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. agreed to return to the Houston Texans and linebacker Zack Baun agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Johnson moving on will force the Saints to address their secondary depth, but the Baun departure could hurt New Orleans a lot. Prior to the start of free agency, David Kenyon, in a piece for Bleacher Report, named one player that every team needed to re-sign. For New Orleans, the player was Zack Baun.

One day into free agency, the Saints have alresdy lost him. However, it might have been for the better, because New Orleans was misusing Baun.

Zack Baun agrees to deal with Eagles after being misused by Saints

Kenyon immediately pointed out the problem, highlighting that Zack Baun recorded 12.5 sacks in his final collegiate season. However, after drafting Baun in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, New Orleans utilized him mostly as an off-ball linebacker and special teams player. Meanwhile, the team was struggling to get after opposing quarterbacks and Baun excels at rushing the passer.

After three seasons, the Saints finally started using Baun more as a rusher in 2023, and he had some success in limited snaps, recording two sacks, two QB knockdowns, and four hurries. But now, Baun is gone, and he’ll likely go to the Philadelphia Eagles and blossom as a pass rusher, while the Saints look to fill that void.