(NEW ORLEANS, La.) — Since March 9, the New Orleans Saints, along with every other NFL team, have been pursuing players whose contracts have run out with other teams. Many high-caliber players were on the market this year, but not as many as usual. This being said, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has made deals with free agents according to the team’s needs. The main focus of this off-season has been to improve the defense. They have been keeping well to their promise, but not forgetting about the offense.
Receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. = C+
On the first day of Free Agency, the Saints signed Ted Ginn, Jr., formerly of the Carolina Panthers, to a three-year, $11 million deal. This signing came before the trade that sent Brandin Cooks to the Patriots, which gave all of us Saints fans the idea that Cooks may actually be moved. When Cooks was traded, this signing made a little bit more sense; however, Ginn is a mediocre player at best, so he can’t replace all of what Brandin Cooks was. This doesn’t necessarily mean Ginn will be a complete bust in New Orleans though, because he could possibly cement his place on the roster as a kick-returner.
Guard Larry Warford = A
Quite possibly the most underrated signing for the Saints this year, guard Larry Warford from the Detriot Lions signed a four-year, $34 million deal on the first day of free agency. The reason that it is the most underrated is because Warford to this point is the best signing the Saints have made. He will most probably start at guard for them since they have lost long-time guard Jahri Evans to the Green Bay Packers. Evans was selected to six Pro Bowls throughout his career with the Saints. Warford has started every game he played with the Lions. He will have a very strong tenure in New Orleans for a long time.
LB A.J. Klein = C+
Last season, the Saints had the worst defense in the NFL for the 3rd year in a row. The defense had many rotations and lots of injuries, especially at linebacker. The Saints signed A.J. Klein, a middle linebacker from the Carolina Panthers defense to a four-year, $24 million deal. Klein played with star linebacker Luke Kuechly, and even played in his place when Kuechly was injured. This signing definitely helps the Saints defense by adding another leader, and adding depth to the linebacker spot.
EDGE Alex Okafor = B-
One of the Saints most glaring needs has been a pass-rusher to mirror Cameron Jordan’s production. That type of rusher is extremely hard to find however, as shown by the Saints recent “success” in this search. Okafor doesn’t fill the need completely, but he definitely will help by being another body in the rotation this year. The former Texas standout hasn’t blown away teams by his stats, but just enough to move the former Cardinals rusher to team up with his former college teammate Kenny Vaccaro. Okafor is coming here on a one-year deal worth $3 million.
Resigning Nick Fairley = A
The Saints best signing comes from someone who played for us last year. Nick Fairley, who racked up 6.5 sacks and 43 combined tackles, played on a one-year “prove it” deal last year. Fairley definitely played well enough for the Saints to resign him to a four-year, $28 Million deal. This is easily the best signing this off-season because it fills a definite need.
RB Adrian Peterson = B+
This signing brought the most national exposure to the Saints, only three days before the NFL Draft began last Thursday. The Saints won the Peterson sweepstakes with a two-year, $7 million deal. However, the second year on his contract is a team option. So, if Peterson doesn’t impress after his first year in New Orleans, the Saints can decide to decline the option and Peterson could be a free agent after 2017. This signing raises a lot of questions though, because the Saints already have a #1 running back in Mark Ingram, who is coming off of his first 1,000-yard season. Peterson has said publicly that he “plans to put his arm around that guy (Mark Ingram) and teach him all he can.” The Saints also traded up in the third round of the NFL Draft to select Alvin Kamara, another running back out of Tennessee.
QB Chase Daniel = C
This signing may not mean much, but it fills the void left by Luke McCown, who was cut after the end of the season. Daniel was drafted by the Saints in 2010 and was let go in 2013. Daniel wouldn’t probably be a long-term solution to the Saints QB needs, as the Saints only signed him to a one-year deal. It also helps that Daniel knows the system pretty well.