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FA Predictions

Bobby Hebert, Deuce McAllister, & Sports Staff's Saints Free Agency Predictions



NFL Free Agency is finally here.   It’s one of the most exciting times of the year for football fans, and the Saints seem to always be big players in free agency.   Will this year be different?  The Saints have around $25 million in cap space available which sounds like a lot, but when teams like the Browns ($105 million), 49ers ($100 million),  and Jaguars ($74 million) have so much more can the Saints really compete to sign some of the top players?
 


 
Our WWL Sports personalities weigh in with their predictions on three burning questions heading into free agency.
1.Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
2.What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
3.Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
 
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Bobby Hebert
Ex-Saints QB and Co-Host of Sports Talk on WWL (M-F 4p-8p)

@BobbyHebert3
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
I'm going offensive guard, very similar to the past when the Saints signed Ben Grubbs from the Ravens.  They’ll be looking at Kevin Zeitler (26 years old, Bengals), T.J. Long (28 years old, Packers), or Larry Warford (26 years old, Lions).
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
The biggest surprise in free agency would be if they don't sign a big time starting guard, especially if Jahri Evans is not part of the 2017 season.
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
The Saints fans won’t be happy unless the organization goes after a top edge pass rusher.  The problem is the best ones got the franchise tag such as Melvin Ingram (Chargers), Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants), or Chandler Jones (Cardinals)
 
 
Deuce McAllister
Ex-Saints RB and Host on Sports Talk on WWL (W & F 4p-8p)

@DMcAllister26
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
I think the Saints biggest signing will be Donta Hightower. He will come at a high price 10m but he will and can be the QB of our defense. Injuries are a small concern but it's a move that they make. 
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
The Saints aren't able to get a premier pass rusher at no fault of their own.  Those guys really never hit the market like first anticipated. Looks like the draft is where they find that guy.
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
No, the fans aren't happy with the hauler of free agents, but this team didn't over spend on any players and got a few playmakers for their defense.
 
 
Kristian Garic
Saints Sideline Reporter & Co-Host of Double Coverage (M-F 8p-11p)

@KristianGaric
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
The Saints biggest free agent signing will be OG Kevin Zeitler from the Bengals.  Zeitler has already received a lot of interest during the league’s tampering period of free agency that started on Tuesday.  This would be a big splash for New Orleans and fill a hole at right guard.  The draft isn't particularly strong at guard, and the free agent market is loaded with proven players.  Zeitler is a very hot commodity right now.  I would be over the moon if they manage to pay him, but it's going to be a big deal to get him in black and gold.  Zeitler figures to land a deal in this neighborhood 5 years $58 million dollars, with an average salary of more than $11 million per season.  Worth it? Probably not that high, but he’ll likely get that in the current free agent market.
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
The biggest surprise would be trading WR Brandin Cooks for anything less than a first round pick.  Teams have been calling about Cooks for over a week now so there is enough interest to get a deal done for the right compensation.  If the Saints take anything less than a first round pick for Cooks it would be a surprise and a bad decision. 
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
I think there are some players to watch in free agency and there is enough talent to address the Saints needs, so I think fans for the most part are going to like what New Orleans does.  The team is not going to make a ton of big signings, but one splash and two or three mid-level signings could be what Saints fans are in store for this spring.  The draft will tell us a lot about how solid this roster will be for 2017. 
 
 
Seth Dunlap
Co-Host of Double Coverage (M-F 8p-11p) & Digital Sports Editor

@SethDunlap
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
If you would have asked me this question a week ago I would have said Dont’a Hightower, the ex-Patriots linebacker who brings pass rushing skills to the position.  However, his value is skyrocketing with other pass rushers coming off the board and he could command a contract with a total value of over $70 million, or $14 million annually.    Could the Saints get creative like they’ve done in the past and fit him in their immediate plans?  Sure, but I think Mickey Loomis has learned his lesson with the fallout over the Spiller, Browner, and Byrd signings.    I still think they realize they need a big upgrade on defense much more than they need offensive line help, however.   If they don’t make a serious play at Hightower, look for them to make a run at ex Buffalo Bills linebackers Zach Brown or Lorenzo Alexander.   
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
I’m fading the rest of our sports staff here and going to predict the Saints don’t sign a big name offensive lineman.   That would be a pretty big shocker to most fans.  I think they’ll sign mid-level value for depth and perhaps a place-holding starter on the right side but it won’t be a big name like Kevin Zeitler or DJ Fluker.
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
I’ve thought about the answer to this for the past week, and had debates on the air with Kristian about it.   Because other franchises have such a wealth of cap space to throw around we are going to see massive, ridiculous contracts given out to every single top flight free agent available and probably most of the upper mid-tier guys as well.  The Saints just don’t have the ammunition to make a play like that this season.   Once free agency is done most Saints fans won’t be satisfied with how things went, mainly because the lack of a true big name signing.  However, fan happiness doesn’t translate to on-field success.   Just ask the Patriots, Packers, Ravens, or Seahawks who almost never make a big free agency splash but rely on smart, value driven signings.    If you’re a Saints fan, don’t let your disappointment in free agency cloud your optimism for the upcoming season.
 
 
Steve Geller
WWL First News Sports Reporter & Sports Talk Producer (4p-8p)

@SteveGellerWWL
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
Signing offensive lineman may not seem like a "sexy" or "big" addition but nothing is more alluring to me than protecting Drew Brees.  I like soon to be 26 year old Larry Warford to land a deal with the Saints.  He has been with the Detroit Lions the past 4 years after getting selected in the in the 3rd round out of Kentucky in 2013.  His price tag will likely be around 7-9 million a year.
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
They won’t sign a pass rusher in free agency.  Sure, Sean Payton said adding a pass rusher was the team's biggest need , but get in line with the rest of the league. All the top options were slapped with the franchise tag so are off the market.  I just don't feel that any of the remaining FAs are worthy of the money.  Filling the defensive end/outside linebacker need via the draft will be vital.    
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
With no big money being spent on any of the big fish in the FA waters I will say NO, Who Dats won't be satisfied. However a trade for Brandin Cooks is going to happen so eat a Snickers, relax and get ready for a big time Black & Gold draft.  
 
 
Mark Menard
Sports Talk Assistant Producer (4p-8p) & WWL.com Columnist

@MarkMenard13
 
Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
This feels like an all-in type of year for the Saints with three straight playoff-less seasons, Sean Payton’s seat warming a bit, and one solitary year left with Drew Brees under contract. Plus the black and gold finally have some breathing space under the salary cap. The bottom line: Games are won in the trenches, and the Saints need help on both sides of the ball in that respect. Fairley proved his worth in his one-year tryout last season, and Fluker could team with Andrus Peat and Max Unger to lock down the center of the Saints’ offensive line, where Brees most likes to do work.
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
After essentially striking out for three straight years, handing big money to players who never lived up to their contracts, the team made better decisions last offseason, finding diamonds in the rough in linebackers Nate Stupar and Craig Robinson, as well as benefitting from a rejuvenated Nick Fairley. Even with an underachieving Coby Fleener and an injury-hampered James Laurinaitis, the Saints hit on 50% of their signings, a huge improvement over 0% the previous two years. Credit the team’s revamped scouting department under Jeff Ireland, which will show even more improvement in 2017.
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
I think the black and gold are a team on their way back up, and they can complete their long trek back to relevance with another solid draft coupled with some sound decisions in terms of free agent signings. While they may not admit it, the Saints have been in rebuilding mode the last few years. The players who won the Saints a Super Bowl, with a couple of exceptions, have aged their way out of the NFL. I thought last season that the black and gold were one more solid offseason away from contention. If the Saints are to regain their footing as a playoff contender under Payton, this has to be the year.
 
 
Tim Zimmer
Double Coverage Producer (8p-11p)
@TimZim1613

 

Who will be the Saints biggest free agent signing in 2017?
-CB Micah Hyde. He can play both cornerback and safety. This signing gives the Saints someone opposite of Delvin Breaux and also a replacement for Jarius Byrd.  Hyde can also play the nickel in defensive sets. 
 
What will be the biggest surprise for the Saints during free agency?
-WR Kenny Stills.  After the Saints decide to trade Bradin Cooks, they will bring back a familiar face to the Black and Gold roster. Even with Stills high asking price, GM Mickey Loomis will make the numbers work and give Brees a deep threat to replace Cooks.
 
Will fans be satisfied with the Saints free agent class this season?
No, the Saints do not have the cap space to fill all of their off-season needs. While the roster will look better on paper from FA & the NFL Draft, there will still be glaring holes on the roster with the lack of depth.  


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