players from ESPN's top 50 FA that could meet saints needs (1 Viewer)

Quietstorm1

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6. Wes Welker, WR
2012 team: New England Patriots



A first-down machine and near uncoverable out of the slot, Welker once again led the league with 1,040 yards from that position. The only downside is that he doesn't attack teams deep and better cornerbacks can slow him down.

8. Tony Gonzalez, TE
2012 team: Atlanta Falcons



The odds are that Gonzalez retires, and that even if he doesn't, the Falcons would make him an offer he can't refuse after he earned the highest receiving grade of any tight end in our system. But imagine he didn't, and was to shop himself around. A guy who just keeps on picking up first downs would prove attractive for a lot of teams, even if it was for only one year.


9. Jake Long, T
2012 team: Miami Dolphins


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What do you make of Long? On talent alone, he's in a class of two (with Joe Thomas) as the elite tackles in the game over the past five years. But Long has struggled with injuries the past two years, and it has impacted his performance. In his first three years in the league, he gave up a sack, hit or hurry on 3.7 percent of pass blocks; in the past two years that number has climbed to 5.8 percent of pass blocks.

15. Sebastian Vollmer, T
2012 team: New England Patriots
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The only drawback on Vollmer is a lingering back injury, but his play since entering the league as a rookie is extremely impressive. Capable of lining up at left or right tackle, will the Patriots let our fourth-ranked right tackle in 2012 hit the open market?

16. Daryl Smith, LB
2012 team: Jacksonville Jaguars



Part of the reason the Jaguars' defense took such a big step back this year was the loss of Smith for most of the season. A versatile player, Smith has excelled at outside linebacker in Jacksonville and showed his versatility by producing strong performances when the Jaguars briefly flirted with a 3-4 defense. He ranked No. 2 among 4-3 outside linebackers in 2011.

20. Andre Smith, T
2012 team: Cincinnati Bengals



You do wonder about Smith when you hear about some of the off-field incidents, but his work in the run game really separates him from other tackles. A decent pass-blocker who can have trouble with more explosive pass-rushers, don't be surprised if the Bengals tag him.

21. Branden Albert, T
2012 team: Kansas City Chiefs
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It's surprising that a lot of people have the Chiefs going tackle with their first overall pick, when they could quite easily tag Albert. He doesn't get much push in the run game, but he's given up only six sacks the past two years.


22. Danny Amendola, WR
2012 team: St. Louis Rams



A poor man's Welker? Amendola has a knack for getting open on short routes and doing enough after the catch to move the chains. His yards per route run figure of 2.04 was 21st in the league, and shows how valuable he can be for a quarterback

25. William Moore, S
2012 team: Atlanta Falcons
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What makes Moore an intriguing talent is that he has a knack for making plays. He has 11 picks over the past three years, and his 7.1 percent run stop percentage while he's lined up in the box ranks 16th among all safeties

27. Richard Seymour, DT
2012 team: Oakland Raiders

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While it's true that Seymour isn't getting any younger, he's still a player who gets plenty of push upfield. Being limited to just 361 snaps in 2012 may scare away some potential suitors, but the former Patriot made his presence felt on those plays. Capable of playing in both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes, he's bound to draw plenty of interest.



29. Adam Jones, CB
2012 team: Cincinnati Bengals
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No longer Pacman, the more mature Adam Jones is coming off a year in which he looked every bit the first-round talent he was drafted to be. Playing right cornerback in the Bengals' nickel package, he gave up just 16 first downs and two touchdowns on 414 snaps in coverage; the seventh-lowest percentage of all cornerbacks.

From PFF:
3. Adam Jones, Cornerback
It tells you something about how well Jones played as the right cornerback in the Bengals’ nickel defense that he warranted such a high cap hit. Finishing the year as our 11th-ranked cornerback thanks to his work in coverage (just 4.35% of his snaps in coverage resulted in a first down or touchdown, seventh-lowest in the league) he played with the kind of ability that finally showcased why he was a first-round pick.

36. Randy Starks, DT
2012 team: Miami Dolphins

Starks made the switch from 3-4 defensive end back to defensive tackle this year, and faded a little as the season went on. Still, given how he's played the past three years, it would be foolish to write off this 29-year-old. He finished the year with 36 combined sacks, hits and hurries, which was ranked sixth among defensive tackles.

37. Desmond Bryant, DT
2012 team: Oakland Raiders
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Bryant spent 2011 at defensive end as he filled in for injury, but was restored back to his defensive tackle role this year and stepped up very nicely. His 7.8 pass-rushing productivity score ranked fifth among defensive tackles, with his 15 combined sacks and hits showing a real impact to hurt the quarterback.

41. Gosder Cherilus, T
2012 team: Detroit Lions


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Cherilus has developed into a solid starting tackle, but he rarely wows you. Far from a punishing run-blocker, his numbers in pass protection benefit from 57.9 percent of Matthew Stafford's drop backs seeing him get rid of the ball within 2.5 seconds.

49. Fred Davis, TE
2012 team: Washington Redskins
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Coming off an injury is going to hurt the value of Davis, but before he went down he was averaging a ridiculous 1.96 yards per route run. Only Rob Gronkowski had a higher average among tight ends, indicating the kind of threat Davis is as a receiver.


50. Mike Devito, DL
2012 team: New York Jets



You know what you're going to get in Devito. Capable of playing along the defensive line, he's stout against the run while offering very little rushing the passer. Since his 2009 season he's graded positively every year, with the kind of consistency that makes him a valuable part of any defensive line rotation.
While I seriously doubt we'll see any of these guys in a Saint's uniform-out of all the ESPN top 50 players these seem like the best fits.

Granted-conventional wisdom says that they'll be out of the saints price range, but hey--it's the offseason.

The guys I'm most interested in:

1. Adam Jones-CB and RS
2. any of the tackles would be upgrades
3. seymour-would help make the transition to 3-4 easier.

Next, I'll look at the lesser name players who have a more realistic shot at being saints.
 
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Quietstorm1

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Richard Seymour
2012 Grade: +9.5
2012 Snaps: 361
Summary: With Henry Melton almost certainly headed back to Chicago, by franchise tag or extension, Seymour is our top free agent defensive tackle. Even at the age of 33 Seymour still started the 2012 season tremendously before it was cut short by a hamstring injury. Aside from a one season spike with 11 penalties just a year ago, that age is surely the only thing to scare teams away from Seymour this offseason.
He can still control and shed blocks extremely well to find the ball carrier in the running game, and in 2011 he earned one of our highest pass rush grades among defensive tackles. While the years may be rolling on, Old Father Time doesn&#8217;t seem to have robbed Seymour of any of his ability or production just yet. To an extent Seymour has become something of a forgotten man since being packed off to Oakland by Bill Belichick, but he is still playing extremely well, and consistently so, and he could help upgrade the defensive tackle rotation for most defenses in the league in the short term at least.

Sammie Lee Hill
2012 Grade: +5.6
2012 Snaps: 419
Summary: Playing behind any combination of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Corey Williams in Detroit, Hill has never had much opportunity to make his presence known. Hill has recorded more than 400 snaps in each of the last three seasons in Detroit, and has graded positively ever since his transitional rookie year when he looked out of his depth moving from Division II Stillman College.
In that time Hill has shown brightly as both a run defender (+3.0 in 2011) and as a pass rusher (+7.9 2012). Playing behind two first-round picks and a player once acquired for a second-round pick, chances were always going to be slim for Hill, but he has shown well in the limited opportunities he has been given in a challenging defense. Someone is sure to be intrigued enough to give him an expanded role in their defense.

Desmond Bryant
2012 Grade: +16.5
2012 Snaps: 645
Summary: With two of the top three interior defensive free agents departing from Oakland, Raider fans might be left ruing the catastrophic mismanagement of their salary cap under the previous regime. As the second Raider on our list, Bryant will be looking to emerge from the shadow of both Seymour and Oakland&#8217;s decline in general. His next team will be looking for Bryant to put together a full season as both a run defender and a pass rusher. In isolation he has shown the ability to be top shelf at both, and if you choose the right selection of tape you&#8217;ll find a defensive tackle who can do everything.
Back in 2010, his second season in the league, Bryant earned a +10.2 grade in run defense while this season he earned a +16.8 grade as a pass rusher. In any other season that didn&#8217;t feature Geno Atkins doing absolutely crazy things, that would have been one of the elite pass rushing performances of the year. Coming out of Oakland Bryant might be a little bit under the radar, but if he can put together the complete package in one season then his next team could be getting one of the bargains of this year&#8217;s free agent period.

Antwan Barnes
2012 Grade: -0.2
2012 Snaps: 189

Summary: This free agent class is long on run defenders and players that you&#8217;re playing a little bit of a guessing game as to what they have left in the tank. Now to round out our Top 10 we have a situational player who whenever he has been given the opportunity he&#8217;s been a tremendously productive pass rusher.
With the Chargers completely re-tooling their outside linebacker corps last season, Barnes was a victim of the numbers game, but teams should still be interested in just what he brings to the table. You only need look back to 2011 when Barnes was one of the most productive pass rushers, per pass rush, in the entire league. That season he recorded 45 total pressures on only 265 pass rushes including 11 sacks which gave him a Pass Rushing Productivity rating of 13.8. That number was bettered by only two edge defenders (Trent Cole and Aldon Smith). With so many teams starved of pass rushers they could do far worse than give Barnes some snaps to get after the quarterback in obvious passing situations.

Sebastian Vollmer
2012 Grade: +28.2

2012 Snaps: 1,261
Summary: The truly elite &#8220;franchise&#8221; left tackles don&#8217;t hit the open market, that&#8217;s why you&#8217;re not seeing Ryan Clady on this list. However, Vollmer leads a class of free agent tackles who are in the class of &#8216;very good&#8217; and, more is the point, excellent value for money in a position that will not directly win you football games.
In his four-year tenure in New England, Vollmer has experience at both left tackle (five starts in 2009, +17.5 grade) and right tackle, and has excelled at both positions. The talk of the town in the AFC East was what the arrival of Mario Williams would do to the division&#8217;s tackles. Well, Vollmer didn&#8217;t allow a single pressure to Williams in the one game that he faced him this season (with Williams deployed primarily on the right side in the return encounter).
A tremendously consistent performer on both sides of the line, Vollmer has only four single-game grades of -3.0 or worse in his four years with the Patriots. If you look at offensive tackle as a mistake-driven position, then Vollmer is an extremely safe pair of hands. In fact, his only letdown p
Jake Long
2012 Grade: -0.4

2012 Snaps: 745
Summary: Two years ago Jake Long was playing in a manner that made many hesitate when judging the Miami Dolphins for passing on Matt Ryan; the Falcons&#8217; signal-caller was elite, but so was Jake Long at the &#8220;crucial&#8221; position of left tackle. Right now Long is just another example of the &#8220;what have you done for me lately&#8221; attitude in this league, with the Dolphins seemingly set to let him walk rather than pay him mega-bucks to hang around. Remember, two years ago Long was coming off of three consecutive seasons with a PFF grade of +30.0 or greater and was in the conversation as the league&#8217;s best left tackle.
Now, after two injury-affected seasons, Long has seen his performances and his league-wide stock slip somewhat to the extent that some may view him as damaged goods. Even so, Long is still a more than capable left tackle and with the knowledge of the &#8220;upside&#8221; of the first three years of his career it wouldn&#8217;t be a surprise to see someone take a risk on him.
Though he didn&#8217;t match his prior level this season, his issue was a couple of dodgy games in pass protection that accounted for a combined -7.4 pass protection grade, as he yielded two sacks, four hits, and four hurries to the Colts and Seahawks. If Long&#8217;s value is driven low and he can put the injuries behind him, someone could get a steal here. If not, someone could waste a lot of money on a worn down player entering a downward spiral.
Branden Albert
2012 Grade: +13.8

2012 Snaps: 722
Summary: Rarely has a &#8220;non-elite&#8221; offensive tackle been as popular a talking point in an NFL offseason as Albert is proving to be now. With the lack of a perceived elite quarterback in this year&#8217;s draft, chatter abounds about whether the Chiefs should let Albert walk and draft an elite prospect to replace him.
If you want your left tackle to be a top-line pass protector, the Chiefs would be wise &#8212; health questions pending &#8212; to keep hold of Albert. Having successfully transitioned to left tackle from guard as a college player Albert has become one of the league&#8217;s better pass protectors and there is no guarantee that the likes of Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, high as their stock may be now, will actually reach that level. Robert Gallery anyone?
On the open market Albert is a player whose pass protection should be coveted by teams in search of an upgrade on their quarterback&#8217;s blindside. His run blocking may be disappointing for a converted guard, but if he checks out medically then his run blocking (-1.1 combined last two seasons) is far from prohibitive, considering the immense benefit you get from his pass protection (+31.0 in the same period).
5. Gosder Cherilus
2012 Grade: +23.4
2012 Snaps: 1,229

Summary: A player much maligned during his entire spell in Detroit, the inclusion of Cherilus this high up may surprise some people. In reality, his perceived performance level is not in line with his actual. Cherilus was in fact knocking on the door of All-Pro consideration at right tackle this season, and in the Lions&#8217; extremely pass-heavy offense he played extremely well, recording a Pass Blocking Efficiency among the league&#8217;s Top 10 tackles (96.3).
The downside with Cherilus is that for a right tackle (if you still believe a right tackle needs to be your best run blocker) his run blocking is not overpowering and he has no experience on the quarterback&#8217;s blindside, having been held at right tackle by the Lions. Cherilus may not create any buzz with some very good tackles of a higher profile hitting the market, so some team may well get a bargain if they have to &#8220;settle&#8221; for Cherilus after the initial rush.
Adam Jones
2012 Grade: +10.5
2012 Snaps: 626

Summary: The best-kept secret in the NFL these days is that Adam (formerly Pac-Man) Jones has not just reformed his image but also reformed his play and quietly had an excellent season for the Bengals. The season was so quietly excellent that when it came time to argue about the end of season PFF Pro Bowl rosters, there was quite a pitched battle inside PFF offices between those that knew he had played excellently and those that simply refused to believe the numbers!
In the end he just missed out in a close battle for the last spot in the Pro Bowl roster, but the point remains that he is playing at that kind of level now. Being opposite Leon Hall can&#8217;t hurt, and there is obviously a substantial risk attached to a player with his history, but on merit alone there is a good case to be made that he should be the top name on this list.
If your team is looking for an under the radar signing who could be the best player from his position in free agency, Adam Jones could be it.
Keenan Lewis
2012 Grade: +3.2
2012 Snaps: 943
Summary: At one point last season Keenan Lewis was pretty upset when beat reporters presented him with his PFF ranking and asked his opinion on it. Whether coincidence or not, from that point on he began to climb the rankings with some impressive displays and ended the year playing some excellent football. Lewis, like his Pittsburgh teammate Ike Taylor, does not have great ball skills, but does seem to have impressive coverage ability and there are teams out there that will be happy with that.
Though he didn&#8217;t intercept a pass in 2012, Lewis actually led the NFL with 16 passes defensed and passers throwing at him had a rating of only 80.7 despite going after him to the tune of 112 targets on the season.
Bradley Fletcher
2012 Grade: +3.7
2012 Snaps: 374
Summary: Fletcher is a player who has always played well when he has been healthy, but just can&#8217;t stay on the field for long enough to make people sit up and take notice. The door is likely closing for him in St Louis given how they have stacked their roster with young corners, and so he will likely wind up a bargain for any new team that can keep him playing.
Greg Toler
2012 Grade: +6.8
2012 Snaps: 308
Summary: Our good friend Pete Prisco listed Toler as one of his underrated upcoming free agents and he nailed it, hitting on a player who will likely slip under the radar but has played well whenever he has seen the field for the Cardinals in the past.
Toler is physical and has coverage skills and could be a great signing for someone who misses out on some of the bigger names.
Daryl Smith
2012 Grade: -1.3
2012 Snaps: 117
Summary: This long-time Jacksonville Jaguar hasn&#8217;t gotten as much attention as he deserves since joining the league in 2004. He spent nearly all of the 2012 season injured and played only in the last two games. Prior to that he was the standard for 4-3 outside linebackers. In 2011 he finished third in Run Stop Percentage at 10.6%, in Pass Rushing Productivity (for those with at least 50 pass rushes) at 13.0, and in Yards per Coverage Snap at 0.67. Many of the free agent linebackers available are good at one or two of those things, but he is the rare talent who can do it all. He will be 31 in a month, so his best football might be behind him, but even if he can&#8217;t reach the same heights he once did, he can still be a great upgrade for most teams.
Brad Jones
2012 Grade: +9.0
2012 Snaps: 688
Summary: After some underwhelming play as a 3-4 outside linebacker, the Packers moved Jones to inside linebacker. Then Green Bay had injures at the position which allowed Jones to emerge as an every-down starter. He managed a positive run defense rating in nine of 11 regular season games. In coverage, he allowed a 68.4% Catch Rate, which was fifth best for middle/inside linebackers who were targeted at least 30 times. He might lack highlight plays, so fans might not be excited to have someone like Brad Jones on their team, but the fact that he can play both run and coverage well makes him a valuable option.
Nick Barnett
2012 Grade: +6.0
2012 Snaps: 1,025
Summary: After two decent years in Buffalo, the Bills released the veteran linebacker. He showed sparks in 2012 of still being a great player, recording four games with four or more stops. He had a positive coverage grade in 2012, in large part due to quarterbacks avoiding him. His 9.4 cover snaps per target was the highest in the league for 4-3 outside linebackers. His Tackling Efficiency of 17.2 was sixth-best for 4-3 outside linebackers with at least 50 tackles. By the time the 2013 season hits he will be 32, so he won&#8217;t be making an impact in the league much longer. However, he can be a short-term fix as an every-down linebacker.
Kaluka Maiava
2012 Grade: +7.9
2012 Snaps: 498
Summary: If a team wants a younger option at linebacker, Kaluka Maiava emerged as a solid part-time player in the Browns&#8217; defense in 2012. The 2009 fourth-round pick&#8217;s best asset was his play in coverage where he allowed 0.50 Yards per Coverage Snap, which was by far the lowest for 4-3 outside linebackers, although it came on only 156 coverage snaps. He never allowed a catch longer than 15 yards on the year which helped keep that number low. His low Tackling Efficiency of 7.7 is a reason to be concerned, but the potential is there to be a good nickel linebacker.
pff.com

Here are some others that Profootballfocus has as their top FA's
 

Super Dad

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So if I were the saints I am looking at one and or two positions based on Bushrod. A new or upgrade at RT would be nice as Streif took a step back and depth with Charlie prone has proven to be a injury liability 2 years in a row.

Saints need to focus their attention on D and I think they know it
 

birdog

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I really like to get Richard Seymour. And let Bushrod walk, and pick up Branden Albert from the Chefs. Even though his run blocking might be not as good, he would free up the 2nd blocker, who regularly helps out Bushrod, and have to be kept inside.

Bushrod got paid somewhere around $5mills last year if I'm not mistaken....I would like to upgrade that position, especially in the pass blocking. Branden Albert would be an ideal choice.
 
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Quietstorm1

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I really like to get Richard Seymour. And let Bushrod walk, and pick up Branden Albert from the Chefs. Even though his run blocking might be not as good, he would free up the 2nd blocker, who regularly helps out Bushrod, and have to be kept inside.

Bushrod got paid somewhere around $5mills last year if I'm not mistaken....I would like to upgrade that position, especially in the pass blocking. Branden Albert would be an ideal choice.
I agree. I think for the money their gonna have to pay Bushrod, we could easily upgrade. I think the OT positions-right and left are a MAJOR need for us. Yes, Defense is pretty blatant-but our offensive woes hurt the defense just as bad. Heck, even if we upgrade LOT and move bushrod to the right.

As for why Gonzelez-1. it hurts ATL. 2. Gonzolez routinely kills the saints and 3. he'd be an outstanding mentor/tutor to Graham.

I think both the Raiders tackles would be great! I'm really liking Brad Jones and Connor Barwin, as well.
 

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Bring in Sammie Lee Hill for a rotational nose with Bunkley. He should come on the cheap. 3 year 8 million deal. Put Hicks at 3-tech and Jordan at 5
 
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Quietstorm1

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Bring in Sammie Lee Hill for a rotational nose with Bunkley. He should come on the cheap. 3 year 8 million deal. Put Hicks at 3-tech and Jordan at 5
Hill, Bryant, Brad Jones, Barwin and Maiava are my favorites on this list (atleast as far as defensive players). I think these guys could really help the transition-and come cheaper than most think.
 

bino22_

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I want us to get Devito too. I think we could definitely afford him.
 

SuperKid

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Vollmer is a Right Tackle correct? So in theory he should draw slightly less contract wise than the top Left Tackles?
 

SaintsJunkie

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love to get william moore and (I know , but he is a good player at the right price maybe) Adam Jones CB
 

Joodas Avila

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I'd put Keenan Lewis on that list too. William Moore, Andre Smith, and Brandon Alberts would be nice FA targets too. If we take care of DB an OT in FA, we can dedicate the draft to pass rushers, DL, and LB depth.
 

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