5 Raiders free agents that could follow Derek Carr to the Saints
As former Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr gets settled in as the New Orleans Saints new starting passer, the timeline of his signing is worth dissecting. The Saints and Carr came to their contract agreement on Mar. 6 this NFL offseason. That gave the Saints signal caller about a week to court potential free agents to join the black and gold in New Orleans. And wouldn’t you know it, there is a long list of former Raiders teammates hitting the market this offseason.
Some of which, could impact the Saints to varying degrees. From bona fide starts, to camp tryouts, New Orleans will have no issues making its new quarterback feel comfortable if he has some teammates he would like to bring along with him. As much as we’d love to highlight big-time players like wideout Davante Adams and tight end Darren Waller, it’s unlikely a trade for either this offseason would make sense. Though a trade for wide receiver Hunter Renfrow should not be considered out of the question.
But that’s for another day. Here are five Raiders free agents that could follow Carr to the Big Easy:
TE Foster Moreau
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The former LSU Tigers tight end finished with 33 catches for 420 receiving yards and 2 touchdown catches on 49 targets in 2022. With a solid career catch rate of 71.7% and a 48.3% contested catch rate, it’s easy to see where Moreau could be of benefit to New Orleans and Carr. He’s also a solid blocker, though could sustain little longer after engaging, a decent athlete and all-around contributor that could pair nicely with restricted free agent Juwan Johnson.
Not to mention he has some considerably strong ties being from New Orleans, where he attended Jesuit High School before heading to LSU. Saints vice president and assistant general manger of college personnel also raved about the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder following his 2019 pro day. He checks a lot of boxes and his connection with Carr could go along way to luring him back home to New Orleans.
WR Mack Hollins
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At 6-foot-4, 221 pounds, Hollins is the ideal build for a big Saints receiver. He caught 57 of 89 targets for 4 receiving touchdowns and 690 receiving yards in 2022. He makes a ton of sense as someone that Carr and the Saints offense would be comfortable with. He’s particularly effective in the short and intermediate area along with carrying a career contested catch percentage of 44.4%. While his numbers are not elite, there is certainly production the Saints would be willing to invest in.
Hollins isn’t a super quick guy, doesn’t pack a ton of burst, but he’s excellent in vertical route stems, has great size, and great command of his body when it comes to adjusting to the ball and boxing out defenders. He can win pretty quickly against off-coverage but gets stifled on press, so lining him up off the line of scrimmage can help with that, especially if deployed as a flanker and in the slot. That type of versatility and impact could help the Saints as an additional big-bodied receiver to rotate with wideouts Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and potentially a returning Michael Thomas in 2023.
DT Jerry Tillery
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The Saints’ biggest need of the offseason now that quarterback is settled has to be interior defensive line. While Tillery would not answer all of the questions at the position, he could be a rotational piece worth a short-term deal. Coming out of Notre Dame Tillery measured in at 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds. He has great size at the position but definitely needs continued development despite being drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Chargers.
Tillery needs to be more consistent pass rusher and diagnosing the run game. But he wouldn’t be a big liability with the mentorship of veterans on the defensive line (which would ideally include outgoing free agent defensive tackle David Onyemata) and a scheme that allows him to rotate and be deployed in the right situations. He would likely a cheaper contract under a “prove-it” mentality because he hasn’t yet popped off at the next level. That kind of bargain with plus traits is worth a shot in free agents.
S Duron Harmon
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The Saints only have a few safeties on the roster going in to free agency. Veteran starters Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, newly signed former Seattle Seahawk Ugo Amadi and second-year player who spent 2022 on injured reserve Smoke Monday. Maye could potentially miss time in 2023 because of his ongoing legal situation so the Saints are definitely in need of depth here. Much like Daniel Sorenson in 2023, Harmon could be a veteran safety that comes in and helps out.
Harmon has played a ton of snaps at free safety and in the box, though not a lot in the slot throughout his career, 3At 2-years old, he would be a reasonable veteran addition, Harmon plays really well downhill, which would have to be his role if called upon as opposed to anything in the deep areas of the field. Instead, the Saints could get him in a situation like Sorenson where he’s mentoring, helping on special teams (though retaining special teams ace J.T. Gray should be a priority for New Orleans as well) and playing more condensed safety concepts where he doesn’t have to cover a ton of ground. If the Saints can do that, they would have a valuable veteran backup.
RB Ameer Abdullah
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At 5-foot-9 203, Abdullah has been more of special teams return man these days. Ultimately, a guy like him may not make the team by the time it’s all said and done. But he’s got the chops to be a guy the Saints would bring in during camp to get a look at.
They need to address the position and have taken an aggressive approach to do so in the past looking at several veteran backs in previous years throughout training camp. Abdullah hardly had any snaps on offense last tear, but could be a body to bring in and have a look at to see if there’s a way for him to contribute or at least compete on the 90-man training camp roster.