New Orleans Saints: Top 5 Free Agents From Super Bowl LI
Super Bowl LI is almost here. This Sunday’s game between the Falcons and Patriots will feature some potential free agents landing in New Orleans. The Saints will be looking at these five guys closely on Sunday. This will be the last time to see these players in real action.
Sean Payton and staff will be keeping a close eye on the Super Bowl. By all means, he’ll be checking out the commercials and the game just like all the other fans. Although this may be true, this will also give him a chance to see how players react on the big stage. The Patriots and Falcons have made it to the top for various reasons. Consequently, both teams will surely lose some of their players after the season is over.
Just about every team will go through some makeover at the end of the season. The Saints will also have some tough decisions to make on their own roster. The injury bug has plagued the Saints on defense especially. Now the Saints will need to make use of their nearly $30 million dollars on free agency.
The key will be to spend it wisely. In other words, don’t mess it up like the past three years. The Saints have squandered so much money with little in return. In 2017, there is little room for error.
Guard Chris Chester has been a solid starter for Atlanta for a long time. Chester has played the last two seasons with Atlanta and played for the Washington Redskins the fours years before. He hasn’t missed a game in that span. Chester was originally taken by the Baltimore Ravens in 2006 in the second round out of Oklahoma.
He ran the fastest time for a lineman in the NFL Combine that year in 4.83 seconds. He stands at 6-foot-3 and 303 lbs. Chester started playing as a tight end the first two years in college then made the transition to a lineman. It wasn’t until his senior year that he held the starting role.
Chester is known for being someone that a team can depend on every week. Furthermore, he’s also a great guy to have in the locker room with plenty of respect from his players and coaches. The Saints could use a guy like this. Notably, with all the the injuries the Black and Gold has suffered.
Upshaw started over 50 games with the Baltimore Ravens over four years of play. Nevertheless, the Ravens made a decision to not resign him after the 2015 season. He went on to the Atlanta Falcons. He stands at 6-foot-2 and 272 lbs. Upshaw comes from Alabama and has the potential to get back to playing at a top notch level.
Upshaw started only five games for the Falcons but look for him to have some teams wanting his services after the 2016 season ends. The knock on him, is his lack of pressure and intensity to cause havoc in the backfield. However, he did have three tackles against the Saints on New Years Day. There’s still a long ways to go. If The Saints can get him at a decent price, the risk may not be too great.
Jabaal Sheard is gonna be a huge signing for any team. He was averaging a little under $6 million dollars a year under his current contract. His market value though will skyrocket to $8-$10 million dollars per Spotrac.com. He’s compared to Vinny Curry and Jared Odrick at his age. Both of these players made nearly $9 million dollars when they were 27 years old. Correspondingly, look for the numbers to be about the same for Sheard.
At the same time, convincing Sheard to leave New England will be a tough sell. Although this may be true, his agent Drew Rosenhaus may have the desire to go and get paid. Having 13 sacks in total does look juicy for the Black and Gold to take a shot after him. His sack total did decrease this year, but there’s no doubt he’s gonna get paid in 2017.
Hightower comes from the University of Alabama. Also, he’s gonna get a nice hefty raise in 2017. Hightower was a part of two BCS Championship teams in 2009 and 2011. Additionally, he was an All-American there, as well as a finalist for these awards including: The Butkus Award, Bednarik, and the Lombardi. He stands at a stout 6-foot-3 and 265 lbs.
Hightower was drafted late in the first round by the New England Patriots. He’s been consistently a performer on the field every year. He’s averaged about 75 tackles per season and three sacks per year. Another key point, Hightower was a huge impact in the playoff game against the Houston Texans. He had eight combined tackles to help disrupt the offense.
Given these points, Hightower may end up close to that $10 million dollar a year range. Henceforth, the Saints will need to decide if putting up that amount for one player will be worth it. This guy looks to fit the part.
The Saints will be looking for a no nonsense running back either through the draft or free agency. Brandon Bolden could be the guy that would fill the void. Bolden hails from within an hour of New Orleans at Scotlandville Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. Les Miles missed out on this local kid, but Ole Miss was happy with that.
Bolden would work into the starting role in his sophomore year at Ole Miss before fracturing his ankle. Since that occurrence, his performance would suffer post injury. Bolden was not drafted out of college. He would end up signing as a free agent with the Patriots in 2012.
Bolden is a solid back with excellent hands that can help the Black and Gold with the running game. Nevertheless, Bolden may be acquired for a low salary, which can help counteract any high end additions the Saints may add. Regardless, Bolden comes from a team that is very picky on signing free agents. The work has been done by the Patriots. Hopefully, the Saints will take a look here as well.