Should the Saints Re-Sign Marcus Davenport?

Marcus Davenport Saints

The New Orleans Saints have some work to do if they want to back to the playoffs for the first time in the post-Drew Brees era. Of course, the first step of the offseason is deciding which of their impending free agents should return to the team. Marcus Davenport is easily the best of the Saints free agents, but does the team have the resources to bring back their former first-round pick?

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Should the Saints Re-Sign Free Agent Marcus Davenport?

Why They Should

You need good football players to win NFL games, and Marcus Davenport is a good football player. On paper, he didn’t have his best season in 2022, as he recorded just 0.5 sacks, 29 tackles, two tackles-for-loss, 14 pressures, and eight quarterback hits in 15 games. However, there are reasons to believe that Davenport was better than his raw production implies. According to Pro Football Focus, Davenport finished the season with a 76.8 PFF grade, good for the 26th in the league among 120 eligible players. While the eye test doesn’t quite match that impressive ranking, there is no denying that 2022 was another solid season for Davenport.

Even if you think the traditional statistics did a better job of encapsulating Davenport’s season, you could easily write it off as a random down year. Davenport has been in the league for five years and has been an above-average pass rusher since 2019. Players inevitably slow down once they get older, but Davenport is entering his age-27 season and should be in the physical prime of his life. With that in mind, it’s not like the guy just forgot how to play football. Chances are, he’ll be back to his old self next year, no matter where he lands in free agency.

Additionally, the Saints don’t have a replacement ready if Davenport leaves. Cameron Jordan and Carl Granderson are a fine duo, but teams need three reliable pass rushers in today’s NFL. Normally, teams could turn to the draft to pick up cheap pass rushers, but the Saints do not have many early picks. If Davenport leaves and one of Granderson or Jordan suffers an injury, it will be tough for the defense to apply any pressure on the opposing quarterback.

Why They Shouldn’t

Just about every team in the league would love to have a player like Marcus Davenport on their roster, and that is a problem for New Orleans. The Saints are currently $57 million over the cap, as years of going all-in for the end of the Drew Brees era are finally catching up to the team. While the Saints could cut a few players for cap space, they probably won’t be able to break the bank for any one guy.

As of this posting, Spotrac believes that Davenport will receive a four-year, $93 million contract with an average annual value of $23.2 million. Considering the Saints current financial woes, it’s hard to envision a world where they could match an offer like that.

The best-case scenario for New Orleans is that every other team in the league is scared off by Davenport’s relatively down 2022. If that happens, there is a chance the Saints re-sign Marcus Davenport to a one-year, incentive-laden contract loaded with “Not Likely to Be Earned” (NLTBE) incentives. NLTBE incentives don’t affect the 2023 salary and, if earned, would be credited to the 2024 cap number.

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