The New Orleans Saints have begun addressing needed positions. After the departure of several contributors from last year, the Saints are a very top-heavy franchise headed into the 2021 season. Some of these losses were to free agency while others were released. Going into training camp, the Saints were thin at many positions but they have started working on these issues by bringing in several veteran free agents to try out. Many left good enough of an impression to be signed by the team. Here is what the New Orleans Saints signing veterans implicates for the team going forward.
New Orleans Saints Signing Veterans
In the past week, the Saints have signed six different veterans to contracts. These are cornerbacks Brian Poole, Prince Amukamara, and KeiVarae Russell; re-signing linebacker Kwon Alexander; running back DeVonta Freeman; wide receiver Chris Hogan; offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy. Each of these signings were for a purpose. Some were to bolster thin units. Others were to move players to other positions. Some signings might have been with future trades in mind. Time will tell if these signings even make the final roster, but they will bring about some interesting camp battles into the pre-season.
One of the Saints thinnest positions going into training camps was cornerback. To help the situation, the Saints have signed multiple players. The first cornerback was Brian Poole. Poole is no stranger to the NFC South. He spent his first three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and the last two with the New York Jets. Poole was considered one of the best slot corners in free agency this year. The Saints will likely use his skill set to move other players like C.J. Gardner-Johnson around the formation. Poole might not be the flashiest free agent this off-season, but he does bring value to the team.
The Saints added two more cornerbacks to their team as well. Prince Amukamara will be attempting to turn back time and start his 100th NFL game. He will compete for the second or third cornerback while young players like Paulson Adebo gain experience. The other corner has started just a single game in his four year career: KeiVarae Russell. He is an experimental player who might just be a camp body or special teams player, filling out a thin position. Russell likely has a shot at making the team if he can outplay Ken Crawley.
Kwon Alexander is coming off an Achilles tear early, and first returned for a visit to the Saints on 20 July, the date he was cleared for NFL participation. He is on a one-year deal after being cut early in March, but has excited the locker room due to his return. The possibilities of an electric player at middle linebacker once again could bode well in the Saints favour, especially as they are thin in the middle.
Skill Position Signings
The Saints worked out and quickly signed wide receiver Chris Hogan and running back DeVonta Freeman to deals. Freeman is no stranger to the Saints as he spent most of his career running for the Atlanta Falcons. Freeman is an ageing running back but likely still has enough legs to be the third back in New Orleans.
DeVonta Freeman might be the most curious signing. Latavius Murray and Alvin Kamara have been a great duo in the NFL. According to Sean Payton, Freeman was brought in so that Ty Montgomery could focus more at the wide receiver position. With the Saints being thin at receiver, this does make sense. Montgomery was a skilled college receiver but his jack-of-all-trades skillset has likely hurt his chances at becoming stable at one position or another. The Saints are very thin at receiver so this move, along with the Hogan signing, are likely to bolster the unit overall.
As for Hogan, he was out of the NFL before the Saints called. Hogan had his most success with the Patriots back in 2016-2018. The Saints will hope he can bring that same success where he averaged 15.4 yards per reception, 12 touchdowns, and 1651 yards.
Veterans Signing Bolster Saints Roster
The last player the Saints signed is offensive linemen J.R. Sweezy. He played guard in his eight previous years in the NFL, starting 104 games mostly for the Seattle Seahawks. Sweezy will likely be used in jumbo packages and as a rotational player for the Saints. In Sean Payton’s offense this is a valuable player who contributes and lines up in various spots around the offensive line. Sweezy’s experience likely contributed to his signing with the Saints.
Like Sweezy, the New Orleans Saints signing veterans bolster a very thin team. There are superstar-level players on the Saints but the depth in most units is woefully thin. Should the Saints have any setbacks due to injury or suspension this year, game losses are likely to follow. Bringing in these types of players helps the Saints salary cap issues, young player advancement, and rotational play. These moves are not likely to bring wins to the team alone, but are complementary pieces to the Saints bolstering what was a thin roster this off-season.