Must, Needs, and Wants. A way too early look at the 2017 free agents. (1 Viewer)

Jive Saint

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Every offseason Sean Payton and the folks at Airline Drive divide the Saints offseason needs into 3 categories. Must (highest priority), Needs, and Wants (lowest priority). Now the planning can begin.

There are many knowledgeable fans on here. This is just a consensus of the most logical opinions I’ve read.

MUST
EDGE
Boundary CB
MLB
Weakside LB that can Blitz.

NEEDS
RB/WR Hybrid
Return Specialist

WANTS
Safety
Right Guard
Right Tackle

Every offseason we fill our Must and Needs in Free Agency. The Wants are usually filled with the draft. Here is a list of under the radar budget free agents. I’m limited on time so I’ll just provide quotes about the players and not in depth analysis, but if you guys know more about some of these players please add to the info. This will be fun.


EDGE- 1 Free Agent, 1 Rookie, 1 Project

EDGE Mario Addison CAR 6’3” 250

A former undrafted free agent, Addison has always been a decent pass-rusher, but took his game to the next level in 2016, cracking double-digit sacks for the first time his in career. Ranking second among 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rushing productivity, Addison totaled 10 sacks, five hits, and 51 QB pressures on just 294 pass rushes. In addition to becoming a more impactful pass-rusher, he had his best season in run defense, recording career highs in tackles and defensive stops. Addison will be 29 years old in 2017, so his prime window will be shorter than most, but he’ll prove to be a good sub-package pass-rusher for teams.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-top-10-under-the-radar-players-about-to-hit-free-agency/

EDGE Jabaal Sheard 6’2” 255 NE

Sheard has started just nine games in those two seasons, but has proven to be a decent situational rusher. In 2015, he had eight sacks and forced four fumbles. In 2016, he started more games, but was eventually benched and seemed to lose some favor with his coaches. Sheard finished with just five sacks on the seasons.

In Dallas he would be a great fit in their “rush-men” rotation. The veteran has shown no problem sharing playing time and Dallas would have another savvy pass rusher to employ. After his struggles in 2016, he could also come a lot cheaper than he did during his first venture into free agency.

2017 NFL Free Agency: 5 Budget Targets for Dallas Cowboys | FOX Sports


EDGE Nick Perry 6’3” 265 GB

An every-down player. Perry looks like a player who's equally effective rushing the passer as he is in stuffing the run. He has the size (6-3, 265) to hold his ground against offensive tackles, and strength to overpower tight ends. He's not the best against the run, but he's certainly more than competent. He won't be a liability.

Should Nick Perry be Jets' top free agent target? | NJ.com


EDGE John Simon 6’2” 260 TEX - Outstanding leader and weightroom monster.

Strong, high-motor defender. Can break down to tackle ball carriers in the backfield. Combines agility with excellent upper-body strength to be a secure and explosive tackler. Works down the line with a blocker on his shoulder without giving up ground. Will pressure the upfield shoulder of slower tackles when selling out as a rusher, possesses enough flexibility to capture quarterbacks stepping up in the pocket. Patient when containing, stays engaged until ball carriers goes inside or outside, then rips off to chase. Uses his hands very well, often batting down the arms of linemen attempting to block him. Displays good pad level. Two-time captain leads his teammates vocally and by example.

http://www.milehighreport.com/2013/...lb-john-simon-scouting-profile-denver-broncos


EDGE Lorenzo Alexander 6’1” 245 BUF

For the right reasons, Alexander thrived in now-fired Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan’s defense and earned 12.5 sacks in only his second year as a full-time starter.
Don’t expect this kind of production on a regular basis from the 33-year-old Alexander though.

https://ninernoise.com/2017/01/07/nfl-free-agency-10-radar-players-49ers-sign/amp/10/



EDGE Alex Okafor 6’4” 260 ARI

No team can have too many pass rushers and Okafor has those types of skills. He found a niche role backing up Markus Golden and Chandler Jones, and played well in a sub package that had all three in the game at the same time.

Arizona Cardinals: 4 under-radar free agents to re-sign



LINEBACKER- 1 MLB FA, 1 WLB FA, 1-2 Project players

MLB A.J. Klein 6’1” 240 CAR

Klein played an integral role in the Panthers’ linebacker rotation in 2015 that saw them reach Super Bowl 50, in which he constructed his best statistical season, racking up 55 tackles, one sack, one pass deflection and one interception.


Given his 6-foot-1, 240-pound frame, Klein would be an has the versatility to play both inside and outside linebacker in the ‘multiple’ 4-3 defensive scheme that coach McDermott will be installing.

2017 NFL free agents: 5 linebackers Bills should pursue if Zach Brown walks | Bills Wire


LB Sio Moore 6’1” 245 ARI

Moore, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 245-pounds, is a playmaking linebacker that presents superb athleticism. Moore is a solid tackler that possesses the ability stick with tight ends and larger pass catchers in the passing game. Moore is also a strong linebacker who can play either the strong or weak side. Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 2013, Moore’s career got off to a quick start. From 2013-2014, Moore recorded 140 tackles and seven-and-half sacks, displaying his versatility within the Raiders’ defense.

2017 NFL free agents: 5 linebackers Bills should pursue if Zach Brown walks | Bills Wire


MLB Bruce Carter NYJ 6’2” 240

Bruce Carter’s outstanding athleticism grants him the versatility to be an excellent fit in McDermott’s defensive scheme. At 6-foot-2, 240-pounds, Carter is an explosive athlete who can cover sideline-to-sideline.

2017 NFL free agents: 5 linebackers Bills should pursue if Zach Brown walks | Bills Wire

He chased money to Tampa Bay and was outplayed by their outstanding young LB’s. He needs to fit into a multiple style defense to thrive. Dennis Allen could utilize him as a coverage LB and get him back to double digit passes defended. He is a small money risk that could pay off.


MLB Gerald Hodges 49ers 6’2” 235

Hodges enjoyed a bit of a breakout season in 2016, earning one of the starting inside linebacker jobs and never looking back. He went on to shine for the 49ers, showing well as a run defender and cover man while racking up 83 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxs...oakland-raiders-011917?amp=true?client=safari

Hodges, after initially struggling to adapt to his new team, has played very well for the 49ers. A good run defender and an effective pass-rusher, Hodges’ 9.3 run-stop percentage ranked 13th among linebackers, while his 16.4 pass-rushing productivity mark was 10th-best. His improved coverage in 2016 is what boosted his overall grade, as he allowed a passer rating of 87.3 after surrendering a 125.5 mark in 2015, and 114.3 in 2014. Hodges’ versatility should make him a solid option for any team in free agency.

https://www.profootballfocus.com/pro-top-10-under-the-radar-players-about-to-hit-free-agency/

WLB Jelani Jenkins MIA 6’0” 240

Jenkins was a fourth-round pick by Miami in the 2013 NFL draft. He’s an athletic outside linebacker who primarily played the weakside linebacker role throughout his tenure with the Dolphins. Jenkins showcased his talent in 2014 when he assembled the best season of his career, recording 110 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
2017 NFL free agents: 5 linebackers Bills should pursue if Zach Brown walks | Bills Wire


CORNERBACK - 1 veteran FA

CB Marcus Cooper ARI 6'2" 190 - ProBowl ALT.

Cooper would bring significant experience and playmaking ability to the table, though. The former seventh-round pick has been a pleasant (albeit inconsistent) surprise through four seasons. While he does struggle at times in coverage, he makes up for it with big plays and a physical presence in the run game.

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxs...oakland-raiders-011917?amp=true?client=safari


CB Logan Ryan 5”11 195 NE - Rarely hurt.

Since 2015, Ryan has tallied 25 pass breakups and six interceptions to go along with 166 combined tackles, showcasing his all-around ability against both the pass and run. One thing that stands out with Ryan is his availability. Ryan has never missed a game yet in his four years in the NFL.

https://www.google.com/amp/billswir...t-if-stephon-gilmore-walks/amp/?client=safari


RETURN SPECIALIST

WR/PR Cordarrelle Patterson 6’2” 220 MIN

The 29th overall pick out of Tennessee in 2013, Patterson performed well when given a chance, but never seemed to fully gain the trust of the Vikings. As a receiver he pulled in 132 career catches for 1,316 yards with seven touchdowns. As a runner, he had 31 rushes for 333 yards and four more touchdowns. Patterson would provide Dallas with a huge upgrade over Whitehead, who they love to use on receiver reverses. Not only that, but Patterson is big enough (6-2, 220 pounds) to also be utilized in the pass game as a receiver.

2017 NFL Free Agency: 5 Budget Targets for Dallas Cowboys | FOX Sports


FS/SS/CB/PR Micah Hyde 6’0” 200 GB

Hyde has shifted inside to cover slot receivers. He has starts at right cornerback, nickel corner and strong safety as well as in three-safety packages. Such responsibilities don’t even include Hyde serving as Green Bay’s primary punt returner and other special-teams duties. Hyde’s defensive durability has allowed Green Bay’s secondary to hang tough.

Hyde credited film study and the play-calling of Dom Capers, calling the long-time coordinator a “genius." Capers said "He knows how to adjust us to get the play-makers to make plays and everyone involved,” Hyde said. “Whether it’s the backup guys or regulars in there, it doesn’t matter. He’s calling the plays and expecting everyone to know them.”

Micah Hyde embodies Packers' versatility, resilience in secondary | NFL | Sporting News



Overall we need a lot on defense. In free agency we need 2-3 LB’s, 1 CB, and most importantly 1-2 EDGE defenders. My ideal somewhat realistic scenario would be…

EDGE Mario Addison CAR 6’3” 250
MLB A.J. Klein CAR 6’1” 240
LB Sio Moore ARI 6’1” 245
LB Bruce Carter NYJ 6’2” 240
CB Marcus Cooper ARI 6'2" 190
FS/SS/CB/PR Micah Hyde - Hard to gauge his value due to his post-season performance. But he is a great player with 3 TD’s as a Punt Returner in addition to consistent DB play.

I would also grab any of the others listed if they were available for minimal contracts. Many of these guys are young role players looking for a chance. And hungry players could change the attitude of this defense. Hopefully into a top 10 unit.

PS- This became a lot longer than I anticipated. Sorry about that. Fingers crossed for a great offseason!
 

Slaw

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EDGE: Nick Perry
MLB: AJ Klein
CB: Logan Ryan
DB: Micah Hyde
RG: Andrew Norwell

That would be a great free agency IMO
 

Bartyboy

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It will take me a while to really go through all that.
I would put RT at must or maybe need.
The guard position may be filled in house but RT is a must.
 

TribuneUK

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In my opinion:
MUST
EDGE
Boundary CB
MLB
Weakside LB that can Blitz.

NEEDS
Right Guard (Up from wants)
Return Specialist

WANTS
Safety
RB/WR Hybrid (Down from needs)
Right Tackle

Guard is more of a need, than a want, based on Jahri's age, the likely better fit of Peat at a tackle spot (not least covering Armstead when injured). The caveat is unless the likes of Turner have performed so well in practice as to make this position deep without going to the FA/draft well.

RB/WR hybrid is only a want, based on limited snaps required and the fact that we are already dominant in the third down area with exactly who we have. It's a luxury to spend much cap/draft capital on this spot.

Otherwise I'm pretty much on board with your priorities. I do think that there are players with far less name value, i.e. unknown to the fans, who will end up being more highly coveted than those we're throwing around in many other threads. That's also forced by the sheer volume of pending name FAs who will never reach the open market.
 

jmalon3

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Depth and pass rusher. That is all
 

DABOOT162

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We have to keep investing in our front seven. It all starts up front on both sides of the ball...


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

GameBreaker

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Thanks for putting this together. The FA period is going to be interesting. I wouldn't sleep on JPP. He's a top flight pass rusher.

One thing I would like to note: The distinction between boundary and field corner is thrown around a lot now but it's more applicable to college than the pros. The hash marks are 54% closer at the NFL level. There's a lot more field to cover on the other side.
 

TIMG

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Pass rusher and oline. Pass rusher can mask a mediocre defensive backfield.
 

dutar76

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Pass rusher and oline. Pass rusher can mask a mediocre defensive backfield.
That's a 2 way street. For any pass rush to work, the DB's have to be able to stay with receivers for a few seconds. If we had Von Miller AND a healthy JJ Watt, they would not have been dominant late in the season when we were down to our 5th, 6th, and 7th options at CB.

Add to that LBs that can cover RBs and TEs. If the check-down throw is there every time, then a pass rush won't work. Ellerbe and Robertson are good, but there's only 2 of them. And we were kinda living on the edge (until we weren't) being one injury from having to start Anthony or Stupar.

It wouldn't surprise me if we made a strong push for a couple of corners and 3 LBs.

O-line... I don't think there was one Saints fan on earth who didn't believe we would address the right side of our line during free agency last year. When that didn't happen, we thought for sure we'd draft a guard if nothing else... A week before the season, we brought Jahari Evans back and that worked out for us. I'm not falling into that trap again. SP will do what SP does with the O-line. It's more than useless to try and guess what moves if any he's going to make.

It wouldn't surprise me if Turner, Young, and/or Allen move up this year. I think we bring Evans back in and maybe another vet, and just let them compete. Hopefully we get another good year out of Strief. If he can stay healthy, I think we will.
 

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That's a 2 way street. For any pass rush to work, the DB's have to be able to stay with receivers for a few seconds. If we had Von Miller AND a healthy JJ Watt, they would not have been dominant late in the season when we were down to our 5th, 6th, and 7th options at CB.

Add to that LBs that can cover RBs and TEs. If the check-down throw is there every time, then a pass rush won't work. Ellerbe and Robertson are good, but there's only 2 of them. And we were kinda living on the edge (until we weren't) being one injury from having to start Anthony or Stupar.

It wouldn't surprise me if we made a strong push for a couple of corners and 3 LBs.

O-line... I don't think there was one Saints fan on earth who didn't believe we would address the right side of our line during free agency last year. When that didn't happen, we thought for sure we'd draft a guard if nothing else... A week before the season, we brought Jahari Evans back and that worked out for us. I'm not falling into that trap again. SP will do what SP does with the O-line. It's more than useless to try and guess what moves if any he's going to make.

It wouldn't surprise me if Turner, Young, and/or Allen move up this year. I think we bring Evans back in and maybe another vet, and just let them compete. Hopefully we get another good year out of Strief. If he can stay healthy, I think we will.

A strong pass rush, a difference maker like Bosa would improve all the other play. Games are won and lost in the trenches. Build from the inside out. You could have Derrelle Revis built into Deion Sanders body on a team and still be a bad defense. You need to pressure the QB into making a mistake. I just finished my loyalty with the Chargers where had Weddle and Verrett and still sucked. This past season they lost Verrett but gained a pass rush. Notice how many more turnovers they created based on the playmaking ability of their DLine. I'm not saying ignore the other spots. Saints need help on the back end for sure. But first order of business, address that DLine.
 

ELLIASJWILLIAMS

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A strong pass rush, a difference maker like Bosa would improve all the other play. Games are won and lost in the trenches. Build from the inside out. You could have Derrelle Revis built into Deion Sanders body on a team and still be a bad defense. You need to pressure the QB into making a mistake. I just finished my loyalty with the Chargers where had Weddle and Verrett and still sucked. This past season they lost Verrett but gained a pass rush. Notice how many more turnovers they created based on the playmaking ability of their DLine. I'm not saying ignore the other spots. Saints need help on the back end for sure. But first order of business, address that DLine.
Von Millers production dipped the games that Aqib Talib missed. In fact their entire D dipped while he was out. Coverage is more important in today's NFL when QBs are getting the ball out in 2 seconds. Even the Great Von Miller admitted he needs 3. You can get that extra second when the coverage is good

So If Cam Jordan is a 4 second passrusher just one more good DB would give him a chance to turn some of his pressures into sacks. Without that extra second it's just that...pressure
 
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In my opinion:

MUST

EDGE

Boundary CB

MLB

Weakside LB that can Blitz.



NEEDS

Right Guard (Up from wants)

Return Specialist



WANTS

Safety

RB/WR Hybrid (Down from needs)

Right Tackle



Guard is more of a need, than a want, based on Jahri's age, the likely better fit of Peat at a tackle spot (not least covering Armstead when injured). The caveat is unless the likes of Turner have performed so well in practice as to make this position deep without going to the FA/draft well.



RB/WR hybrid is only a want, based on limited snaps required and the fact that we are already dominant in the third down area with exactly who we have. It's a luxury to spend much cap/draft capital on this spot.



Otherwise I'm pretty much on board with your priorities. I do think that there are players with far less name value, i.e. unknown to the fans, who will end up being more highly coveted than those we're throwing around in many other threads. That's also forced by the sheer volume of pending name FAs who will never reach the open market.

I can see your logic. I started to place RG as a need, but with limited cap space I didn't see anyone who would be a significant upgrade without spending big money. I'm hoping that Jahri Evans comes back for one more year.

Couple Evans with an Andrus Peat like rookie on the Right side. That would be my ideal scenario.

When it comes to the RB/WR hybrid it's not just the current snaps, but can we get a better player for similar money as Cadet. I forgot to add Reggie Bush in the OP. But I'd love Bush and a rookie.



Thanks for putting this together. The FA period is going to be interesting. I wouldn't sleep on JPP. He's a top flight pass rusher.

One thing I would like to note: The distinction between boundary and field corner is thrown around a lot now but it's more applicable to college than the pros. The hash marks are 54% closer at the NFL level. There's a lot more field to cover on the other side.

You're welcome GB. I had a lot of fun putting this list together.

JPP would be great, but expensive. I tried to create a group that cover a lot of needs. With JPP we would have to start moving money and lose out of some of these middle class free agents.


That's a 2 way street. For any pass rush to work, the DB's have to be able to stay with receivers for a few seconds. If we had Von Miller AND a healthy JJ Watt, they would not have been dominant late in the season when we were down to our 5th, 6th, and 7th options at CB.



Add to that LBs that can cover RBs and TEs. If the check-down throw is there every time, then a pass rush won't work. Ellerbe and Robertson are good, but there's only 2 of them. And we were kinda living on the edge (until we weren't) being one injury from having to start Anthony or Stupar.



It wouldn't surprise me if we made a strong push for a couple of corners and 3 LBs.



O-line... I don't think there was one Saints fan on earth who didn't believe we would address the right side of our line during free agency last year. When that didn't happen, we thought for sure we'd draft a guard if nothing else... A week before the season, we brought Jahari Evans back and that worked out for us. I'm not falling into that trap again. SP will do what SP does with the O-line. It's more than useless to try and guess what moves if any he's going to make.



It wouldn't surprise me if Turner, Young, and/or Allen move up this year. I think we bring Evans back in and maybe another vet, and just let them compete. Hopefully we get another good year out of Strief. If he can stay healthy, I think we will.

I agree D. There are a lot of quality LBs in free agency. Grabbing 3 could make a big difference. We need to build the middle class of this roster. And the best bang for our buck is at LB.

I hope RG Landon Turner isn't the starter next year. He has slow sloppy feet. I was surprised he made the team. Hopefully he improves and becomes consistent, but right now he is a liability as a starter. But I agree- Payton is going to handle the OL. And his path could be a surprise.


Von Millers production dipped the games that Aqib Talib missed. In fact their entire D dipped while he was out. Coverage is more important in today's NFL when QBs are getting the ball out in 2 seconds. Even the Great Von Miller admitted he needs 3. You can get that extra second when the coverage is good

So If Cam Jordan is a 4 second passrusher just one more good DB would give him a chance to turn some of his pressures into sacks. Without that extra second it's just that...pressure

I agree with you, but also having LBs that can cover the short area will make a big difference. That extra second comes from the whole team. Right now we have a lot problems in coverage. The biggest problem is availability. PJ Williams, Swann, Byrd, Ellerbe, Breaux, and a long list of others have proven to be consistently unavailable. Now that we know that. We can plan for it by bringing in guys like Logan Ryan who don't currently have that issue.

Boy this is a lot of fun. Digging the football talk y'all.
 

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