Saints' Free Agency, Draft Shopping List

As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Combine (March 1-6), the New Orleans Saints must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve upon their 7-9 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and evaluated the Saints' roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and to reference during the Combine.

Head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees are back, but the Saints' mediocre finishes the last two seasons show that isn't enough. Mostly, Payton has to figure out a way to have his offense present a true running threat while continuing to improve a defense that ranked last in the league against the pass.

Cornerbacks and pass rushers would be a start.


2016 finish: 3rd in NFC South (7-9)


TOTAL OFFENSE: 426.0 (1st)
RUSHING: 108.9 (16th)
PASSING: 317.1 (1st)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 375.4 (27th)
RUSHING: 101.6 (14th)
PASSING: 273.8 (32nd)

*=Vet who may be released or option not exercised


CORNERBACK: The Saints like what they have in two-year starter Delvin Breaux, but they could use another solid cover corner to pair with him.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)
A.J. Bouye, Houston (26 in August, $1.67M)
Trumaine Johnson, L.A. Rams (27, $13.95M)
Logan Ryan, New England (26, $693K)
Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo (27 in September, $3.02M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)
1/10 Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State, 6-0, 195, 4.47, 1 (underclassman)
2/15 Teez Tabor, Florida, 6-0, 201, 4.50, 1 (underclassman)
3/21 Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, 6-1, 196, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)
4/23 Sidney Jones, Washington, 6-0, 181, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)
5/34 Desmond King, Iowa, 5-11, 206, 4.53, 1-2

OFFENSIVE TACKLE: The Saints are set with Terron Armstead on the left side, but they may need to find a replacement for 11-year veteran Zach Strief.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)
Andrew Whitworth, Cincinnati (36 in December, $9M)
*Russell Okung, Denver (29 in October, $10.6M)
Rick Wagner, Baltimore (28 in October, $576K)
Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville (G; 26 in November, $5.3M)
Matt Kalil, Minnesota (injury; 28 in July, $4.94M)
Riley Reiff, Detroit (29 in December, $2M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)
1/14 Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin, 6-5, 314, 5.29, 1 (underclassman)
2/25 Cam Robinson, Alabama, 6-6, 310, 5.28, 1 (underclassman)
3/38 Garett Bolles, Utah, 6-5, 296, 4.97, 1-2 (underclassman)
4/53 Taylor Moton, Western Michigan, 6-5, 330, 5.31, 2
5/59 Roderick Johnson, Florida State, 6-6, 308, 5.34, 2 (underclassman)
6/77 Antonio Garcia, Troy, 6-6, 293, 5.04, 2-3

RUNNING BACK: Mark Ingram is a strong inside runner, but the Saints need another capable back even though Tim Hightower, a free agent as of March 9, was a solid alternative.

UFA TARGETS (Age, previous contract's average annual salary)
Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (25, $1.03M)
*Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (32 in March, $14M)
LeGarrette Blount, New England (31 in December, $1M)
Latavius Murray, Oakland (27, $567K)
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay (27 June, $848K)
Darren McFadden, Dallas (30 in August, $1.5M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)
1/5 Dalvin Cook, Florida State, 5-11, 206, 4.43, 1 (underclassman)
2/9 Leonard Fournette, LSU, 6-1, 230, 4.45, 1 (underclassman)
3/24 Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, 6-0, 202, 4.48, 1 (underclassman)
4/60 Alvin Kamara, Tennessee, 5-10, 215, 4.62, 2 (underclassman)
5/86 Joe Mixon, Oklahoma, 6-1, 226, 4.50, 3 (underclassman)

UFA KEEPER: DT Nick Fairley (29, $3M)

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.
* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.
& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Drew Brees. Backup -- Luke McCown.

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Mark Ingram, FB John Kuhn (UFA). Backups -- Tim Hightower (UFA), Travaris Cadet (UFA), Daniel Lasco, Marcus Murphy.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Coby Fleener. Backups -- John Phillips (UFA), *Josh Hill, *Michael Hoomanawanui.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas. Backups -- Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman, Tommylee Lewis, Jake Lampman, Corey Fuller.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- *LT Terron Armstead, LG Andrus Peat, C Max Unger, RG Jahri Evans (UFA), RT Zach Strief. Backups -- G/C Senio Kelemete, G/C Tim Lelito (UFA), T Tony Hills (UFA), G Landon Turner, C Jack Allen, *OL Avery Young.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- DLE Cameron Jordan, DT Tyeler Davison, DT Nick Fairley (UFA), DRE Paul Kruger (UFA). Backups -- DT Sheldon Rankins, DE Darryl Tapp (UFA), DE Kasim Edebali, DT David Onyemata, *DE Obum Gwacham, *DL D.J. Pettway, *DE Mitchell Loewen.

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- WLB Dannell Ellerbe, MLB Craig Robertson, SLB Nate Stupar. Backups -- *SLB Stephone Anthony, *WLB Hau'oli Kikaha, MLB Sam Barrington (UFA), WLB Travis Feeney, SLB Jason Trusnik (UFA), *MLB Michael Mauti.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Sterling Moore (UFA), *RCB Delvin Breaux, *SS Kenny Vaccaro, FS Jairus Byrd. Backups -- FS Vonn Bell, CB B.W. Webb, SS Roman Harper (UFA), *CB Ken Crawley, *CB Damian Swann, *CB P.J. Williams, CB De'Vante Harris, FS Shiloh Keo (UFA), SS Chris Banjo, *FS Erik Harris, CB Taveze Calhoun, FS Robenson Therezie, *FS Jamarca Sanford (UFA), *CB Kyle Wilson (UFA), *SS Jimmy Pruitt.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Wil Lutz, P Thomas Morstead, KOR/PR Tommylee Lewis, LS Justin Drescher (UFA).

Copyright © 2017 TTWN Media Networks Inc. Photo: Getty Images

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