The Saints have a little more than $27 million dollars of salary cap space to operate with when free agency starts on March 9th. Teams can begin negotiating with players on March 7th but won't be able to conusmate any deals until the 9th. However, the Saints figure to be pretty significant players on the open market. Saints coach Sean Payton has said numerous times this off-season the team needs to find a pass rusher and would like to add a cornerback during the spring. Payton didn't tip his hand as to whether that will be via free agency or the draft in April.
The Saints history under Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis have been highly aggressive in free agency during their time in New Orleans. The recent results aren't too strong, but early in their tenure the duo was very successful shopping in the tepid waters of free agency. Let's see if they can reverse the downward trend this off-season.
Here are a few names to keep an eye on when the frenzy begins in next week.
A.J Bouye (Cornerback) Houston Texans: He's probably the most talented cover corner on the open market. The Saints have done well in free agency in the past at this position. Keenan Lewis and Jabari Greer are a couple of names that have been good signings for the Saints. Bouye played on the best defense in the NFL last season and could be a benefactor of a great pass rush in Houston, so the Saints will have to be careful and mindful of that when doing their homework on the player. He's going to be one of the highest paid free agents on the open market, so that might keep the Saints at bay.
Kevin Zeitler (Guard) Cincinnati Bengals: With Jahri Evans status up in the air and Zach Strief's age a concern it's time for the Saints to deeply consider rebuilding the right side of the offensive line, and Zeitler is the candidate for that rebuild at guard. Evans was a stop gap player a year ago that played well, but likely not in the 2017 plans.
Dont'a Hightower (Linebacker) New England Patriots: Where do I start? He comes from the Patriots, and we know the Saints love trying to emulate that regime (who wouldn't). Hightower was one of the big playmakers on a New England Defense that was extremely opportunistic, plus it's a position of need for the Saints. I would expect the Saints to make a good run at him.
Nick Fairley (defensive tackle) New Orleans Saints: Fairley had a career season, on a one year prove it deal with the Saints last season, and I hope the Saints bring him back and sign him before free agency starts. However, Fairley might be looking for above market value and that could cause the Saints to look in another direction. Fairley is a valuable member of the front four with he and Sheldon Rankins in the middle giving the Saints a really good inside rush package.
Mike Glennon (quarterback) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What? A quarterback? Yeah the Saints were poised to draft Glennon a few years ago but the Buc's snatched him before the Saints were able to pull the trigger on draft day. Glennon has experience, and has been sitting behind Jameis Winston in Tampa. He could be a really good signing if the Saints plan to move on from Drew Brees after the 2017 season or 2018 season. This could be one of the bigger surprises of the off-season. I think we're all in agreement the team is need of finding the eventual successor to Brees and Glennon could be worth a look.