Advertisement

5 free agents for Saints fans to scout in Browns-Texans playoff game

We’re closing in on kickoff of the NFL’s wild-card round, which is a great opportunity for New Orleans Saints fans to scout upcoming free agents while they compete on the biggest stage. And there are plenty of prospects worth watching when the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns match up.

Whether the Saints are looking to get more explosive in the running game or deeper on the defensive side of the ball, here are five players we’re watching closely:

Browns DE Za'Darius Smith

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Smith fits the athletic prototype the Saints look for at 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, and he brings several years of proven production while playing for a couple of different teams. Signing the 31-year-old wouldn’t help New Orleans get younger or more athletic off the edge, but he would be more of a sure thing to improve the pass rush than Payton Turner or Isaiah Foskey.

Texans DT Sheldon Rankins

Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Rankins has continued to find success in the NFL after leaving the Saints as a free agent back in 2021, but most importantly he’s stayed healthy. He’s played 15 or more games in each of the last three years after he was limited to just 22 games with the Saints in his last two seasons. He was a good locker room presence in New Orleans and a reunion could make sense if the Saints want to get more dynamic up front.

Browns LB Sione Takitaki

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Takitaki played for Saints defensive coordinator Joe Woods in 2022, so there’s some familiarity here. As is the case with Cashman, the thinking here is finding a veteran linebacker who can possibly replace Zack Baun and improve depth behind Demario Davis while helping out on special teams.

Texans LB Blake Cashman

Tim Warner/Getty Images
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Cashman was an important player on special teams for Houston last year, and that could be something the Saints are looking for in free agency after season-ending injuries hit Andrew Dowell and Nephi Sewell. But Cashman has experienced a breakout role in DeMeco Ryans’ defense. With Pete Werner stagnating and Zack Baun possibly leaving in free agency, he’s someone to watch closely.

Texans RB Devin Singletary

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Singletary has been a good fit in the Houston running game, leading the team with 898 rushing yards in the regular season. He’s undersized for what the Saints have looked for at a listed 5-foot-7 and 203 pounds, but the type of players that process has led them to have not found success. Singletary had 10 runs of 15-plus yards in 2023, while the Saints had 9 of them from Alvin Kamara, Kendre Miller, Jamaal Williams, and Tony Jones Jr. combined.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire