The top Saints offseason signings
By: Jeremy Trottier
The New Orleans Saints have had one of the more interesting offseasons in 2021, with their cap space situation being the driving factor behind many of their cuts and signings. With the minimal cap room they have created through cuts, they have been able to make some quality signings and re-signings that have really improved the roster for next season, or have extended the longevity of the roster strength due to extensions of elite players. In this article, I will be going over the three signings or re-signings that improve the Saints roster the most this offseason.
Kwon Alexander – LB
A move that happened relatively recently, we have the return of Kwon Alexander to the Saints. After being cut earlier this offseason due to an Achilles injury, the Saints brought him back on a much cheaper deal that is heavily incentive-laden, adding up to three million dollars this season if he meets the incentives. Kwon was traded to the Saints last season for a conditional draft pick and LB Kiko Alonso, which ended up working pretty well for the Saints, as he started seven games for them and had a pretty respectable stat line:
- 7 games played (7 started)
- 4 passes deflected, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries for 20 yards
- 27 total tackles, 1 QB hit, allowed 60.9% completion rating against him
Overall, he had a productive half-season or so for the Saints before his injury, keeping in mind those stats are solely from his games in New Orleans and not the five games he played with San Francisco prior to the trade. Matching Kwon’s coverage capabilities alongside Demario Davis’ pass rush and run-stuffing abilities made for a very strong linebacker duo in NOLA.
Brian Poole – CB
One of the better slot cornerbacks in the league is the second player on this list, in Brian Poole from most recently the New York Jets. After another extremely effective season for Poole in 2020, he was picked up as a free agent by the Saints recently to bolster a relatively unknown CB core in terms of how proven they are outside Marshon Lattimore.
Poole had a near career-high seven passed deflected (career-high was 9 in 2016) in 2020 in only nine games played and seven games started, as well as two interceptions. He also had solid tackling numbers for less than half a season’s worth of starts, with 44 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, two QB hits, and four pressures. Finally, he only allowed a 61.6 passer rating when targeted and a 64.1% completion percentage when targeted.
J.R. Sweezy – OG
Finally, we have another relatively recent signing in offensive guard J.R. Sweezy, most recently of the Arizona Cardinals. This is one of the best depth signings the Saints have made in a while, and Sweezy even has the potential to start if Cesar Ruiz does not perform this season. Sweezy has started 104 career games and played in 117 games, the large majority of which being at right guard but some being at left guard.
The main fault in his game is penalties, as he has had 49 in his career total, 10 of which coming in one season alone in 2015. Every season that he started more than 11 games he had 6+ penalties and has never had a season where he had less than three. This could definitely be cleaned up by the Saints coaching staff, however, as the large majority of his penalties are false starts, and those are pretty easy to work out of.