The New Orleans Saints' 2022 regular season has not gone according to plan so far and if they continue to lose games, they're going to want to consider trading players and getting whatever they can from them. That might be easier said than done, however.
With at least nine key players set to become free agents and the team sitting third to last in cap space as of this writing, New Orleans typically would want to make some moves to free up cap space and maybe get some extra draft picks in the process. The problem is that it might not benefit the team to trade players due to the amount of money they'd still be on the hook for.
Saints in the final year of their contracts
In the first section, we'll look at the players who will be free agents when the 2022 season comes to an end. The Saints could lose three of their four starting defensive linemen, as Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, and Shy Tuttle and while they could look to trade any of these guys, Davenport is the only one who'd likely bring back a decent exchange.
Davenport, a first-round pick in 2018, has a PFF grade of 76.2 through six games and has been one of the best players for New Orleans on defense. They were wise to pick up his fifth-year option even when he wasn't playing well but now that he is playing well, they could still try to get something for him while they still can rather than try to sign him to a long-term deal.
Onyemata and Tuttle probably wouldn't command much on the trade block so it's doubtful the Saints send them elsewhere.
Bradley Roby is another player who could make sense to trade. The Saints acquired him in a trade in the 2021 offseason and he was outplayed by Paulson Adebo but has been a valuable part of the team's secondary this year. He probably wouldn't bring back much of a haul but the Saints could potentially get a late-round draft pick in exchange for him.
Andy Dalton is unlikely to be traded because the Saints need somebody to play quarterback and he's the best option right now. Plus, he wouldn't bring much of a return. Jarvis Landry previously would have been someone that the Saints should have looked to trade but now that he's been banged up, his value plummets tremendously.
Unfortunately, the Saints probably aren't going to be able to unload a lot of their big contracts. Michael Thomas is the highest-paid player on the roster and his contract is going to be difficult to trade because of his recent injuries. When Thomas is healthy, he's a fantastic player but that contract looks rough now, sadly.
I don't foresee the Saints parting ways with any of their highest-paid players unless teams are really willing to take on a lot of the contract.
A sad reality
Unfortunately, the Saints are going to have a hard time trading their players and no one on the roster is worthy of a high-end draft pick right now. Chris Olave might be in that argument but that's the one guy the team should absolutely hold onto because of the talent he possesses.
The Saints won't have a first-round pick in 2023 unless they trade Sean Payton but even then, it likely won't be as high as where they would have picked had they not traded their first-rounder away. That's going to be a move that fans look back at and groan unless Olave and Trevor Penning become All-Pro players.
As mentioned above, Marcus Davenport presents the best opportunity to be traded but he has $10.6 million in dead money attached to him, which again, doesn't help the Saints unless a team wants to trade for him.
New Orleans is in a tough situation moving forward and it doesn't feel like a quick fix is on the way.