ESPN and Football Outsiders say Saints are the best fit for free agent DT Jarran Reed

We’re a week away from the official start of NFL free agency, when dozens of players will change teams on lucrative contract agreements. And the New Orleans Saints are positioning themselves to make some more moves after signing their new franchise quarterback Derek Carr. Though they’re still over the salary cap by about $24 million, some clever restructures and maybe a release or two will get them in the clear, at which point New Orleans can begin to stake out the free agent market for new additions.

One suggestion comes from Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz in a collaboration with ESPN, who likes Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Jarran Reed as an option to sign with the Saints in free agency:

Now that the Saints have a quarterback, they need to take care of some of the other holes on the roster … and they need to do it cheaply because adding Derek Carr hasn’t made their cap situation any better. Last season’s top three defensive tackles are all free agents, so there’s going to be some movement there.

Reed, who played last year on a one-year deal with Green Bay, would be a good addition there at an economical price. Reed played 68% of Green Bay’s defensive snaps last year, which leads all free agent interior defensive linemen. However, his last contract was for only $3.25 million. According to SIS’ points saved metric, Reed was worth 24 and 18 points in each of the past two seasons. Compare that to Eagles veteran free agent Fletcher Cox, who was worth 24 and 19 points, but likely comes at double or triple the salary of Reed.

The fake analytics points system aside, Reed makes sense as a budget-conscious addition to a rebuilding New Orleans defensive line. He has experience working in both even and odd fronts and that would translate to the Saints defense — call it a 4-3 if you want, but they get creative with a lot of 3-3-5 alignments out of nickel personnel. Don’t write off a talented player  just because they’re used to running in a 3-4 lineup.

And Reed has been productive while working in a variety of setups. He’s credited with 33 pressures in each of the last two seasons, both in Green Bay (in 2022) and on the Kansas City Chiefs (in 2021); his best years came before that with the Seattle Seahawks, where he collected 22 sacks across five seasons. Reed can play well in a rotation, and he would make sense for the Saints if they can’t work out an extension with David Onyemata (or if they can, and want to double down on a veteran presence inside).

On the other hand, the Saints would be Reed’s fourth team in four years. He turned 30 in December and would not be a long-term fix. The Saints should still be looking to pick a talented rookie early in April’s 2023 draft if they brought him into the fold. But if nothing else, signing Reed to a sensible deal would mean the Saints don’t have to force their hand on draft day and trade up for a defensive tackle or reach on one just because they need the help. He’s a name to monitor in the weeks head.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire