Will the Saints Get Sherman?
By: Courtney Burrows
The off-season for the New Orleans Saints was a doozy, wasn’t it. We said goodbye to the leader of the pack, Drew Brees. The Saints resigned CB PJ Williams, S Marcus Williams, QB Jameis Winston, and brought EDGE Tanoh Kpassagnon over from the Chiefs. They also added Ty Montgomery and Dwayne Washington both running backs who will contribute mightily to special teams and returns. The Saints also released LB Kwon Alexander, TE Jared Cook, WR Emmanuel Sanders, DT Sheldon Rankins, and Malcom Brown, CB Janoris Jenkins, DE Trey Hendrickson, and punter Thomas Morstead. Needless to say, there are holes to fill that can be addressed in the draft but some can be fixed right now. The Saints cleared up $111 million in cap space to releases, retirements, contract restructures, so let’s look at the top 3 free agency needs for the Saints and how they might be secured.
KJ Wright Linebacker- Wright is 6’4” and 246 lbs. and has not yet been resigned by the Seahawks and reports out of Seattle state that they are not interested either, so he could be cheap and would be able to step in day one and produce. In 2020, he had 86 tackles and 11 for losses, he is been a quiet, consistent linebacker. Even tough he turns 32 this summer, if the Saints drafted a LB, Wright could be the plug and play needed while the new prospect develops under the coaching staff. This would be a very low risk move by the Saints, as Wright was already passed over the Cowboys which should make his price even lower now. Wright wants to play and given the chance despite his age, could easily move onto the line and help the Saints fill immediate holes.
Richard Sherman Cornerback-The Saints have an all-star CB in Marshon Lattimore but releasing Jenkins hurt in having a reliable, speedy corner to complement him. The re-signing of Jenkins helps but having to rely on other defensive backs to cover is not ideal. There are many great talents in the draft that the Saints could easily slot into the role, but for now, let’s shift our eyes to veteran Sherman to help the defense cover the slot. Sherman is aging and missed out on numerous 2020 games due to injury, but don’t sleep on him just because he is older. Remember Sherman is a 5-time Pro Bowler and elite secondary machine that plays with grit and fire in his belly. In just five game sin 2020, he still managed 18 combined tackles, one pass defended, and one interception. The point is Sherman can still produce and should be a steal in terms of money because so many teams have already passed him by. New Orleans is a perfect fit for a 1 to 2-year contract for Sherman.
Jurrell Casey DT- Losing defensive tackles Rankins and Brown definitely hurt the Saints, but salary cap had to be refined. Casey is someone that makes me scratch my head in wonder because his 2020 season was cut short due to a bicep tear, so can he regain his explosive power? Is he worth the gamble and cheap enough to consider? Those questions I cannot answer, but in 142 career games, Casey has had 51 sacks and 507 tackles. Again, this is another aging player who might be worth the risk for a year to help round out the defense for the Saints.
Bottom line is that the Saints need to address more defensive free agents now so that they can focus on the offensive side of the ball earlier in the draft. That does not mean that they ignore talented, raw defensive players that fall in their laps like a potential DE or LB in rounds three and four. The Saints first grab in round one should be a wide receiver to complement Thomas as they must rebuild the confidence in the offensive after losing Brees, unless they make a move up for a shot at a QB. If that does happen, round two should then be a WR. I also could see the Saints grabbing a cornerback in round two, which means adding Sherman now for security and depth makes perfect sense.