Free agents the Saints could target after the draft

There are many free agents still available but we will probably have to wait till after the draft to see where they go.

Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Even though the 2024 Free Agency period started three weeks ago, many impactful free agents are still waiting to be signed. This limbo period of not signing free agents is usually caused by two factors: the NFL Draft and Compensatory Picks. Some free agents are waiting to see if teams draft a player in their position. Other free agents are not being signed because they will count towards the comp pick system, which no longer occurs after the draft.

Justin Simmons

Denver Broncos v Houston TexansPhoto by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

Justin Simmons is one of the top available free agents and arguably one of the top free agents in this year’s class. Simmons is a Pro Bowl free safety that can play all over the field. In 2023, Simmons caused two forced fumbles, had three interceptions, deflected eight passes, and secured 53 solo tackles. The Broncos would have loved to keep him on the team, but Simmons had to be cut because of cap issues.

For the New Orleans Saints, signing Simmons would be an amazing move that would improve the whole defense. Even with the resurgence of Jordan Howden, Simmons can fit any role that Howden is not playing. What I mean by this is that both players are very versatile, so if Howden is playing free safety on a down, Simmons can go in the box or vice versa. Simmons is also to play in the slot, allowing the Saints to play Alontae Taylor on the outside. Based on this safety market, the Saints won’t have to pay Simmons a lot, which is another positive with this deal. This move could be done before the draft because there is no comp pick with this deal, but Simmons might be waiting to see if the teams in for him draft a safety.

Mekhi Becton

New York Jets v New England Patriots

One of the teams the Saints love to take players from in free agency is the New York Jets. Recent examples include Demario Davis, Marcus Maye, and Nathan Shepherd. In 2024, this can happen again, and Mekhi Becton could be that player. Becton has had a rocky start to his career due to injuries and coaching quality. These issues have definitely hindered his play, but when he is on the field, there are many flashes. At 6-foot-7, Becton is a mountain of a man at the left tackle position that is impactful in the pass and run game.

As we know, the Saints’ offensive line has some holes and needs players. Becton and the next free agent I will discuss can be signed as depth pieces that can break into the starting lineup. Becton will be brought into the facility as competition at left tackle, and if the Saints can show improvement on the offensive line coaching staff, Mekhi Becton can shine. The Saints will not have to break the bank for Becton, and we could see a cheap prove it deal with injury stipulations.

Dalton Risner

NFL: SEP 24 Chargers at VikingsPhoto by Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

There is one free agent available that makes the most sense for the Saints: former Vikings guard Dalton Risner. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a player focus on Risner and how he can be an impact player on the Saints. Risner has been a starting guard in the league for many years and has survived many coaching regime changes. Risner has played under Klint Kubiak’s zone run scheme and will be able to shore up the left guard position for the Saints. He is very good at lead blocking and is a pretty good pass protector. He won’t jump off the page as a Pro Bowler, but Risner can be an above-average starter.

I have been keeping tabs on Risner’s offseason and rumors around him, but it has been pretty silent. Vikings fans still talk about how they would love for the team to bring him back, and they question why it has not happened yet. Risner would count towards the comp pick formula, so if the Saints are in on him, it would occur after the draft. This seems like an inevitable signing because of scheme fit, coaching connections, positional need, and potential for a cheap deal. This could also be beneficial with the development of Nick Saldiveri, who could act as a successor to Risner.

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