What the New Orleans Saints gained by signing offensive lineman Oli Udoh

Buried below the Chase Young headlines is news that the New Orleans Saints also signed Oli Udoh on Monday. Udoh is an underrated addition to an offensive line desperate for quality depth.

Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills
Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills / Timothy T Ludwig/GettyImages

On Monday, the New Orleans Saints signed offensive lineman Oli Udoh to a one-year deal. After spending all five years of his NFL career with the Minnesota Vikings, Udoh heads South. He reunites with offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak in New Orleans.

The Saints signing a former sixth-round draft pick with 18 career starts might seem trivial, but Oli Udoh adds a lot of size and versatility to an offensive line that ranked near the bottom of the NFL in 2023.

“Vikings say goodbye to dependable veteran” is the title of a Vikings fan blog post regarding Udoh’s contract with the Saints. Indeed, Minnesota fans are sad to see the 6-foot-6, 320-pound protector depart. Udoh was hardly the most talented Vikings offensive lineman, but he was the immediate backfill when injury struck a starter.

Saints sign offensive lineman Oli Udoh

Udoh logged numerous game reps at tight end, both tackle positions and right guard. Last season, the Elon alum logged 45 snaps at left tackle. His PFF grades were below replacement level, but covering the blind side is not Udoh’s strongest position.

Right tackle is where Oli Udoh is at his best. Such is welcome news for the Saints, considering how much the team struggled at the position last season. Udoh graded out at 73.6, including a 76.8 pass-blocking grade after appearing in six games at right tackle in 2022. The sample size was small, but Udoh’s performance would have been a welcomed addition to the plagued offensive line in New Orleans a season ago.

Few Saints fans have forgotten how poor the offensive line play was in 2023. Moreover, the consensus among Who Dat Nation is the protection around Derek Carr must significantly improve to keep the dream of competing for a playoff berth in 2024 alive.

Ultimately, adding a veteran offensive lineman with experience at four positions is a plus. Udoh having experience blocking within a Kubiak offensive scheme is an added bonus.

The best-case scenario for the Saints is that Udoh hardly sees the field. In such a scenario, the offensive line remains healthy and effective, and Trevor Penning is capable of starting at left tackle. However, Saints fans can feel good about Udoh’s ability if he is thrust into action because of a starter’s poor performance or injury.