NFL offseason: Could Patriots make a move for any of these Saints veterans? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New Orleans Saints lost franchise quarterback Drew Brees before the 2021 NFL season, and earlier this week they lost longtime head coach Sean Payton.
It's clear the Saints will look a bit different next season. But how much different?
This tweet from NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah was pretty interesting:
Looking at Saints cap situation + new HC + QB uncertainty, I'd be calling trying to enquire about their star vet players. That could be a rebuild situation and they have some stud vets.
— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 25, 2022
If the Saints do decide to retool/rebuild, they have several veterans on their roster who might be a good fit on the Patriots.
It has to be an on-field fit and salary cap fit, too. We can't forget about the roster construction part.
Sure, it would be great if the Patriots had a wide receiver of Michael Thomas' caliber, but he has a salary cap hit of $24-plus million each of the next two years, which is insane. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and defensive end Cam Jordan both would upgrade New England's defense in a huge way, but they also have salary cap hits over $20 million next season.
Which Saints players make the most sense for a potential trade? Here are some of the best options (Salary information via Spotrac):
Demario Davis, OLB
2021 stats: 105 total tackles, three sacks, seven passes defensed
Contract: Signed through 2023, $11M cap hit in 2022 and $12M cap hit in 2023
Davis would add much-needed playmaking ability to the Patriots linebacker group, which struggled throughout the 2021 season due to, among other things, a lack of athleticism. The veteran linebacker was named a second team All-Pro this past season after leading the Saints in tackles for the fourth consecutive year. Davis also is very durable and has missed only one regular season game in his 10 years as a pro.
USA TODAY Sports
Bradley Roby, CB
2021 stats: 23 total tackles, one sack, one interception, five passes defensed
Contract: Signed through 2022, $10.08M cap hit in 2022
The Patriots need cornerback depth and talent, even if J.C. Jackson remains in New England on the franchise tag or a new long-term contract. Joejuan Williams is a draft bust and is a liability. Jonathan Jones is a capable cornerback but missed a large chunk of the 2021 campaign due to injury. Roby would give the Patriots another dependable cornerback to cover quality wideouts.
— NFL (@NFL) November 26, 2021
Malcolm Jenkins, FS
2021 stats: 79 total tackles, one interception, five passes defensed
Contract: Signed through 2023, $12.2M cap hit in 2022 and $11.95M cap hit in 2023
Jenkins ranked second on the Saints in tackles and was a good run stopper. He's probably in the final stage of his career as a 12-year veteran, but he's still a quality starting-caliber player. The Patriots have two good safeties in Kyle Dugger and Devin McCourty, but you can't have enough depth at this position.
Marcus Davenport, DE
2021 stats: 39 total tackles, nine sacks, three forced fumbles
Contract: Signed through 2022, $9.82M cap hit in 2022
Davenport, an athletic pass rusher who's made great strides in his four pro seasons, tallied a career-high nine sacks in 2021. Any team that acquires Davenport probably will get another stellar season from him considering he's playing for a contract. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in March of 2023. Davenport and Matthew Judon on opposite sides of the Patriots' defensive line would be pretty scary for opposing offenses.