The New Orleans Saints will have a tricky offseason ahead of them for the 2021 season.
Entering the 2020 season, fans were worrying about who would the Saints have to let go and will be able to re-sign. The two biggest names of most people’s lists were crossed off the list, as Alvin Kamara and Demario Davis signed contract extensions to keep them on the team for a few more years. Now the Saints have to make moves now.
The Saints have arguably the greatest single year draft class of all time in 2017, drafting six players that are starting today. All of those players signed four year contracts that ended in 2021. The Saints picked up the fifth year options on both first rounders Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk, meaning the Saints can worry about resigning them in 2022. The front office was able to extend Kamara’s contract to a five year $75 million extension. The Saints now have to figure out what to do with free safety Marcus Williams, linebacker Alex Anzalone, and defensive lineman Trey Hendrickson.
Williams, though responsible for the Minneapolis Miracle, has played phenomenal, having a combined 230 tackles and 13 interceptions in his first four years of playing. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Saints let him walk after the season, but his play making on the ball benefits the Saints and he should resign to a two year contract.
Anzalone has been plagued with injuries every year he played, but when he was on the field, he could help stuff the run. The Saints would most likely let Anzalone walk, as the Saints could re-sign 2020 pick up Kwon Alexander to a short term deal, as Alexander has been helping Demario Davis on the field.
Hendrickson is having his career year in New Orleans, where he already has 9.5 sacks, three more sacks than his first three years combined. The Saints will re-sign him to a four year contract, where they will get rid of Malcom Brown and fellow future free agent Sheldon Rankins, so the front office can make room for Hendrickson to fit in with the starting lineup.
Other notable Saints free agents include Jared Cook, Jameis Winston, P.J. Williams, Michael Burton, JT Gray, Dwayne Washington, Garrett Griffin, and James Hurst.
Cook had a slow first half of the 2019 season, but ended up racking 28 receptions for 537 yards and 7 touchdowns from Week 10–17, helping him earn his second Pro Bowl nomination. Since he was an expensive acquisition in the 2019 season, signing a two year contract for $15 million, he will most likely walk in the offseason, with rookie tight end Adam Trautman taking his spot next year.
Jameis Winston walked from Tampa Bay, who signed Tom Brady in the offseason. Winston believed that learning from Drew Brees would be helpful for his career, and could might have a chance of starting next season if Brees hangs his cleats up after this season. He agreed on a one year $3 million contract, so if he starts next season, he may sign for a low charge, to adjust with the other contracts on the team.
P.J. Williams was never good enough to be a starting cornerback, but at slot and nickel cornerback, he is a different breed of athlete. He will most likely stay if starting cornerback Janoris Jenkins ends up getting cut to save space with the cap space. If Jenkins stays on the team, Williams will walk in free agency and will sign to start somewhere else.
Michael Burton is a full back, and Burton was the best full back in free agency when the Saints signed him. Head coach Sean Payton uses full backs in his gameplan, so Burton will definitely be back next season.
JT Gray is a First-Team All Pro Special Teams player, helping prevent big kickoffs and punt returns. He has forced four fumbles, and recovered one. The Saints would be wise to not let Gray walk away.
Dwayne Washington, Garrett Griffin, and James Hurst are all decent back up players, so it is hard to figure out if they will walk or re-sign.
Mickey Loomis is one of the smartest general managers in the NFL, and he has made magic happen for the team before, so expect magic to happen again for next free agency season.