GOOD VALUE: Reasonably Affordable Players Saints Can Target in Free Agency

Photo courtesy of the New Orleans Saints, YouTube

In just a little less than two weeks now, the New Orleans Saints and the rest of the National Football League’s 32 teams can officially begin negotiations with any one of the available veteran players on this year’s 2020 Free Agent market, that they’d like to sign to a brand new contract — and come play with a different NFL franchise in another city.

As its been reported previously: the League’s salary cap for the upcoming 2020 NFL Season later this fall is expected to stand at approximately $200 million per team. As of this very moment the Black and Gold currently has nearly a whopping $200 million ($189 million to be exact) that’s already been allocated among the Top 51 players on their team roster.

Besides that, New Orleans also currently has an additional $192 million that counts against their salary cap; according to the good folks over at the NFL salary cap expert and money-themed website Spotrac. The Black and Gold will enter into the 2020 Free Agency signing period with approximately anywhere between $15 and $22 million to spend; although their well-known top #1 priority will first be to re-sign their own key veteran free agents; which includes players such as strong safety Vonn Bell and defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Saints upper management (General Manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, and salary cap / team money expert Khai Harley) will be making their very best effort to try and save enough money towards the team’s future during the upcoming NFL seasons still yet to come — in order to make new contract offers to a few other key contributors next off-season in 2021 — such as superstar RB Alvin Kamara, #1 starting CB Marshon Lattimore, and All-Pro offensive right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

As a direct result of their current financial status, the Saints could take a somewhat more conservative approach to 2020 NFL Free Agency, while deciding to focus most of their energy towards keeping their investments “in-house”. It’s an option they still might ultimately choose, so they can save most of the remaining money under their salary cap limit towards next year; rather than shopping around instead for new veteran players on the open Free Agent market, starting in just a little less than 2 weeks (March 18th) from now.

That said however, New Orleans could nevertheless still decide to explore the option of targeting / making offers to a couple of players on the market that would be considered “bargains” money-wise; while simultaneously still  improving the overall talent on their current roster.

It’s also important to remember that the Saints have had a very reputable history in recent years of still being able to find a variety of different ways to create extra cap space, in order to sign well-known veteran players in Free Agency — even when they were thought to be completely broke — but yet always manage somehow to make it all work for themselves.

With that in mind, here are a few players with very good value for their positions on the field; and who should be “reasonably affordable” for the Saints to target — but without having to overspend or invest a huge amount of money to sign them— that would hurt or affect their overall budget.

Starting first with….


Obviously, the Saints have made it one of their main priorities this off-season to add an individual at the wide receiver position that could provide them with another “weapon” in the their passing attack, to alleviate the pressure upon and become a complementary player on the opposite side of the field from 4th year All-Pro WR Michael Thomas.

And while the 2020 Free Agency’ market’s top-rated WR — Dallas Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper — will presumably cost way too much money for the Saints to get for that notable and well-intended purpose; there very likely still remains a viable option for New Orleans in that regard in less than 2 more weeks from now, with soon-to-be former New York Jets WR Robby Anderson.

The 6-foot-3, 190 pound Anderson is expected to plenty of competition from among several different NFL teams for his services, given his age (he’s only 26 years old), his deceptive speed (4.36), and his impressive production numbers-wise, over the course of the last few seasons. According to several reports, Anderson has told multiple people within his inner circle that he wants to see exactly what he’s worth value-wise on the open free-agent market; and at this point, it seems likely the Jets organization (who could still actually decide to re-sign him) are willing to allow him that opportunity.

It’s been intimated by some that the Jets have been considering the likelihood of bringing him back for another few seasons; but aren’t too keen on spending a bunch to keep him. Heading into the open market, Anderson is expected to command $7.5 to $8 million per season at the very least, but could even cost as much as up to $10 million per year season (and possibly even more) depending on how teams view him. Then just last week, it was reported that Anderson might seek to ask interested teams for as much as $15 million per season — but it remains unclear if he will actually be able to get any team to fork up that much.

Whether or not Anderson is actually worth that much is a reasonable argument that can be made, given the fact that his best-ever season as a professional was over 3 years ago (back during the 2017 Season); when he tallied 63 catches for 941 yards and 7 TD’s. But his production has declined recently, though some of that regression was mostly due to the Jets having a new rookie QB (Sam Darnold) guiding their offense. Anderson only had 52 catches for 779 yards and 5 TD’s last year, and essentially became relegated to the #2 WR spot behind young veteran and new Jets #1 WR Jamison Crowder.

Nevertheless, Anderson is still in his physical “prime” and offers top value at his particular position during what will only be his 5th NFL season in 2020; after signing with the Jets originally as an undrafted free agent out of Temple University (located in Philadelphia) in the 2016 off-season. And for a Saints team that desperately needs to add another “weapon” at WR (even though the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft next month is also still a viable option for them); Anderson could end up being just what the Black and Golds needs — and especially if he comes down to NOLA at a reasonably-affordable price.


The linebacker position — much like the wide receiver position for New Orleans — has suddenly become a priority for the team this off-season; in spite of the phenomenal All-Pro season last year in 2019 that was put together by 31-year old veteran Demario Davis.  Since his arrival after the team signed him in 2018 NFL Free Agency just 2 years ago, Davis is now widely considered to be one of the greatest Saints free agent signings of all-time in the franchise’s entire 53-year history.

However, the Saints now currently have several linebackers that either will be hitting the free-agent market this off-season (A.J. Klein and Manti T’eo) or that possibly could even end up being released by the organization outright (Kiko Alonso, Josh Martin); and they still have a few more players at the position that will be free agents next off-season in 2021 (Davis, Alex Anzalone. and Craig Robertson). While the team could choose to address the position in the upcoming NFL Draft later next month, they still could also look towards free agency once again to fill the LB position specifically, as they notably have done so in the past.

While Los Angeles Rams LB (and presumed #1 unrestricted free agent at the position) Cory Littleton might be just outside of the Black and Gold’s budget / price-range (Littleton is said to be looking for a minimum of $15 million per season), New Orleans would still likely entertain the idea of pursuing soon-to-be 5th year inside linebacker Joe Schobert; who just recently was given his freedom by the Cleveland Browns — who drafted him originally in the 4th Round of the 2016 NFL Draft four years ago from the University of Wisconsin — to look for other opportunities to play elsewhere.

Considered by some observers and analysts as a virtual “tackling machine”, the 6-foot-1, 245 pound Schobert has been nothing but extremely productive since he came into the NFL; and as evidenced by last season in 2019 when he had a phenomenal stat-line of 133 tackles and 4 interceptions for under-achieving Cleveland (who finished the year with a 6-10 win-loss record). But perhaps more importantly and especially where the Saints would be concerned: Schobert is still only 26 years old; and much like the previously-mentioned Robby Anderson above, is still in his “prime” physically. In 4 NFL seasons, Schobert has appeared in 61 games, amassed 408 total tackles (both solo and combined), 8.5 sacks, 6 interceptions, 7 forced fumbles, and 20 passes defensed or knocked down.

Assuming the Saints lose one or more of those LB’s in the upcoming months or even seasons ahead, New Orleans will certainly need a player at the position that can perform at a high level in both pass coverage and defending against the run, and who similarly to Demario Davis can continually make plays on a consistent basis. Schobert undoubtedly possesses those qualities; and is regarded by some to have Pro-Bowl caliber potential as he gathers more playing experience in the League. The one likely “sticking point” for Saints team brass will be the amount of money that Schobert is thought to be seeking annually; which also similarly to the previously-mentioned Anderson of the Jets, is at $10 million per season.

While that price might not seem as “reasonably-affordable” for many Saints fans. it’s definitely top-value for a player that Schobert could potentially become for the Saints defense and the LB corps, specifically under brand new Saints LB coach Michael Hodges — and more importantly for a New Orleans team that presumably is only just one or two more play-makers away on either side of the football — from winning a Super Bowl title before Drew Brees retires.


The Saints certainly could use some added depth to their offensive line no matter what this off-season, but they’ll especially need to add another player “down in the trenches” with the ability and versatility to play multiple positions — something that they’ve earned a notable reputation for in recent years with a variety of different players on both sides (O-Line, defensive back / secondary. linebacker) of the ball — and that will definitely be the case should starting offensive left guard Andrus Peat leave the team in Free Agency.

Peat, who was the Black and Gold’s top pick (1st Round, pick #13 overall) back during the 2015 NFL Draft; is an unrestricted free agent and there’s no guarantees at the moment that he will ultimately choose to re-sign with (and come back to) New Orleans in 2 weeks from now. But he can play any of the spots along the line with the exception of center, and despite his occasional struggles in pass protection in recent seasons along with his knack for suffering nagging injuries at times; losing him to another team would still be considered a huge blow for the Black and Gold.

One player that would seem to be a great option for New Orleans in that regard is soon-to-be 5th year veteran Detroit Lions O-Lineman Graham Glasgow. The 6-foot-6, 315 pound Glasgow didn’t give up a single sack last season and thanks to all of the injuries surrounding the Lions QB position, the most impressive fact about that statistic is that he managed to yield zero sacks while protecting four — count them — 4 different quarterbacks throughout the year. Additionally, Glasgow can play EVERY position along the offensive line; although his specialty is along the interior at either one of the guard spots as well as at the center position.

Glasgow has made 59 career starts in 65 total games and has been an anchor for the Detroit O-Line  ever since the Lions drafted him originally back during the 3rd-round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan. He played every snap in his second NFL season (2017), all but one in 2018, and started 13 games at right guard and one at center last season in 2019. He also was rated one of the League’s best interior O-Linemen, and the folks over at Pro Football Focus gave him a 74.1 overall grade for the entire 2019 NFL season.

The 26-year old is yet one more player in this year’s free agent class that is currently still only in his mid 20’s and is in his physical “prime”; and clearly his skill-set and versatility is a huge attraction (and would definitely provide top value at all of the interior O-line positions) for a potential suitor such as New Orleans. Glasgow shouldn’t cost nearly as much as signing the top O-Lineman in this year’s class (Joe Thuney of the Patriots) and should be well within the Saints’ presumed price range, for approximately anywhere between $6 to $8 million per year.


The final player on this list might not quite fall under the description or premise in this particular article of being “reasonably-affordable”, but the plain truth is that it all just comes down to your very own perspective or particular point of view. The Saints currently have a handful of back-up players at the CB position (Eli Apple, Patrick Robinson, and P.J. Williams) that will be unrestricted free agents in 2 more weeks from now; and starting #2 CB Janoris Jenkins is set to earn $11.2 million in the final year of his contract — which could persuade Saints front office brass to either negotiate a new (and cost-friendlier) deal or possibly even just release him — for the main purpose of saving money for other players (like Lattimore) that are due to be free agents next year in 2021.

That means that the Black and Gold could add another CB or possibly even two this off-season, and if they don’t sign one later next month during the 2020 NFL Draft; then chances are they might target one in 2 weeks from now at the start of Free Agency. One name that Saints fans will want to remember and keep in the back of their minds (in spite of what some believe will be an expensive asking price) is that of 9th year Denver Broncos veteran and former 2015 Super Bowl championship-winning CB Chris Harris Jr.  The 30-year old Harris, who generally is regarded by many analysts and experts as one of the NFL’s very best “cover” corners in the entire League either on the outside boundary or inside at the “slot”, is expected to test the open market in unrestricted Free Agency; after the Broncos opted not to place the Franchise Tag on him.

Grant it: Harris is expected to command what most feel will be a fairly large amount of money per season (as much as $15 million per year) in what could be his last contract as a professional; but those who have spoken to him in recent weeks have said that he also is open to the idea of accepting a deal for a somewhat lesser amount, for the opportunity to play with another team that likely will be a Super Bowl contender in 2020 and beyond (like the Saints). That’s because Denver is currently in “rebuilding mode” under 2nd year head coach Vic Fangio and 2nd year QB Drew Lock, the Broncos’ top draft pick from last year.

Now a decade into his NFL career (he turns 31 this summer), Harris is still considered to be a “lock-down” / elite-caliber player at the CB position; although he didn’t really measure up to that standard quite nearly as good in 2019 with Denver. Nevertheless, Harris — who the Broncos originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Kansas in the 2011 off-season — is still among the very best (and most well-established veterans) who will be available at cornerback in this year’s free agency class. Harris has only missed 5 games in 9 NFL seasons, and still remains as a very capable and effective contributor in the defensive secondary.

Harris is still considered a top-notch tackler and can still “shut down” opposing backs and receivers in pass coverage, and has averaged multiple interceptions for the past several seasons while lining up either on the outside or in the “slot”. In 9 NFL seasons altogether, Harris has played in 139 games (with 121 starts), has amassed 518 total tackles (443 solo, 75 combined), 4.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles (with 2 recoveries), 20 interceptions (with 4 “Pick Six” TD returns), and a whopping 90 passes defensed or knocked down. Last season, Harris earned just under $12 million in what became the final year of his last contract, and could be seeking to get paid at least that amount yet again this coming season (and probably beyond), if not more.

For the Saints, Harris would provide them with a very intriguing option; especially if they wanted to form what they hope would be a top-rated tandem (Lattimore and Harris) for the defense’s future over the course of the next few years. If somehow (but that’s still a pretty big ‘if’) his asking price ends up being what Saints team brass considers “reasonably affordable” under their current money situation, then don’t be all that completely shocked if New Orleans winds up doing the unthinkable: and makes Harris the newest member of the Black and Gold, after 2020 NFL Free Agency gets underway in just a little less than 2 more weeks from now….

Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium. He is the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius

Help Keep Big Easy Magazine Alive

Hey guys!

Covid-19 is challenging the way we conduct business. As small businesses suffer economic losses, they aren’t able to spend money advertising.

Please donate today to help us sustain local independent journalism and allow us to continue to offer subscription-free coverage of progressive issues.

Thank you,
Scott Ploof
Big Easy Magazine

Share this Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *