4 trade ideas that make sense for the Saints before roster cuts

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The next wave of NFL roster cuts is nearly here, and the final cut-down date is just a week away. But there’s still time for the New Orleans Saints to either improve their team or add to their list of future draft picks while getting some value out of players on the bubble. If you know a player isn’t going to make it, or if they won’t play much this year, maybe try to get something for them instead of nothing.

Before we get too deep into the weeds here: I’m a firm believer that the Saints should be sellers, not buyers, considering the state of their roster. It’s worth more to me to keep guys like Tanoh Kpassagnon and Latavius Murray around as inactives on game day in case you need the depth later in the season once injuries inevitably strike. But I’ve got to admit that the New Orleans is thin enough at enough spots on their depth chart to justify chasing an addition — at the right price.

Latavius Murray to the Rams for a 2022 seventh round pick

New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray runs past Los Angeles Rams free safety Eric Weddle during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Rams' problems at running back are starting to pile up. Few players were able to fill in for the Cam Akers-shaped hole in their offense, and now one of their most promising options is sidelined while Darrell Henderson manages a thumb injury. Few teams have gone all-in on this season like L.A. has after trading for Matthew Stafford so trading for Murray would make sense. Maybe he needs a change of scenery, but it's more likely Murray is just declining with age. The Saints aren't going to get a higher pick for a 31-year--old averaging 1.5 yards a carry in the preseason, and even a sixth might be pushing it. You just have to hope the Rams are desperate enough. The good news is they have ample picks to barter with, including three projected compensatory sixth rounders next season. Maybe the Saints can talk them into overspending out of necessity. Also, keep in mind that moving Murray frees up more than $3.1 million in salary cap space for New Orleans.

Tanoh Kpassagnon to the Jets for a 2022 sixth round pick

New Orleans Saints linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon walks off the field with a bloody mouth after attempting a tackle on Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

We already know the Jets have been calling around the league looking for help after Carl Lawson's awful season-ending injury. And the Saints are one team with, somehow, too many defensive ends to work with. They can't (and won't) move Cameron Jordan's contract, and Marcus Davenport shouldn't be moved for anything less than a first rounder. Payton Turner and Carl Granderson have easy-to-see roles as situational pass rushers. That leaves Kpassagnon on the outside looking in as a potential game-day healthy scratch. He isn't the flashy pass-rush specialist Jets fans may be hoping for, but Kpassagnon has started a lot of games in the NFL and would help solidify their rebuilding defensive front. They also already have three sixth rounders next year from previous trades. If the Jets can't find a bigger name at a price they like, Kpassagnon makes sense as a backup plan. On a related note: what would you be willing to include in this deal to bring back cornerback Justin Hardee after he signed with New York in free agency?

A 2022 fourth round pick to the Eagles for Zach Ertz

Aug 12, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz (86) before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Everything seemed fine at tight end, going so well that the Saints cut one of their reserves (Josh Pederson) last week. Then Garrett Griffin got nicked up in practice and missed the Jaguars game. Adam Trautman and Nick Vannett both left that exhibition game with injuries and are waiting on MRI results for foot and knee issues, respectively. Josh Hill retired after signing with the Lions, so that avenue is closed. The Saints need quick reinforcements here before the regular season kicks off. And Ertz makes sense. He's not playing often in Philadelphia (just 10 snaps across two preseason games) after a summer filled with trade speculation. The Eagles have been holding out for a higher pick, but they're not going to get better than this fourth rounder for a past-his-prime tight end counting $8.5 million against the salary cap. The Saints can absorb that (they're estimated to have $11.9 million in cap space right now, and can get up to $15 million by moving Latavius Murray in a cut or trade) while adding a proven commodity to a position fraught with uncertainty while counting on an extra mid-round comp pick for Trey Hendrickson next year.

A 2022 third round pick to the Broncos for Michael Ojemudia

Denver Broncos cornerback Michael Ojemudia (13) gets set for a play during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Few teams have steadily built up as much cornerbacks depth as the Broncos. Between high draft picks and free agent signings, they've assembled a group that boasts four starting-quality players (Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan, Ronald Darby, and rookie Patrick Surtain II) plus high-quality backups like Ojemudia and Essang Bassey. Good players like Saivion Smith and Kary Vincent Jr. are going to test the waiver wire. Still, it's going to be tough for New Orleans to benefit unless you think the Saints can wrest one of those top-end players away, which would cost a significant draft pick. But in surveying their depth chart I'm not convinced Smith or Vincent have much to offer in the competition between Ken Crawley and Paulson Adebo opposite Marshon Lattimore. The Saints shouldn't put a first- or second-rounder on the table. But there's a sweet spot in the middle where swapping a third round pick for Ojemudia makes sense for both sides. While he's week-to-week with a pulled hamstring, he's got enough upside to challenge both Crawley and Adebo while being young enough to maybe replace Lattimore next year if his contract isn't extended. He has the athletic profile (as seen in his 9.11 Relative Athletic Score) and the playmaking ability (he's leading Denver in forced incompletions this preseason, per Pro Football Focus) to thrive in a bigger role with the Saints. It would be a bold move for New Orleans, and it's something I'm not wholly convinced is necessary. But I'd understand it.

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