4. Add depth at linebacker
Last offseason, the Saints picked up one of the more productive linebackers available in the free agency pool in one-time New York Jets’ performer Demario Davis. The 2012 third-round pick from Arkansas State – who was dealt to the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and spent one season with that club – has yet to miss a game in seven NFL seasons.
This past year, he came up big for Dennis Allen’s defensive unit. He led the club with 110 tackles, to go along with five sacks, four passes defensed and a pair of forced fumbles. Davis joined a linebacking corps that includes A.J. Klein and 2017 third-round pick Alex Anzalone. The latter was a seven-game starter for Sean Payton’s team and finished tied for fourth on the club with 59 tackles. The two-year defender also rolled up a pair of sacks, three forced fumbles, knocked down two passes and managed one interception. Klein was third on the Saints with 70 tackles, two sacks and three total takeaways.
Six-year pro Manti T’eo played in only five games and made only two starts. Veteran Craig Robertson, the team’s top tackler back in 2016 with 114 stops, played in every game this past season but was never in the starting lineup. Both he and Te’o are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 13. Will the team bring them back at a reasonable price for depth or let them test the market? The latter may wind up being the wisest move given the team’s cap issues at the moment.