ESPN’s Matt Bowen: Marcus Davenport’s best fit in free agency isn’t the Saints

One of the New Orleans Saints’ biggest in-house free agents also figures to be one of the most in-demand players available in March. ESPN ranked defensive end Marcus Davenport at No. 20 out of the top-50 free agents headed for the open market, and speculation is already swirling about where he could sign.

The latest take from ESPN’s Matt Bowen, who suggests Davenport could benefit by signing with the Houston Texans. Houston is expected to be one of the big players this offseason after loading up with draft picks and more than $37 million in salary cap space. Here’s the argument for putting some of those resources towards signing Davenport:

“New Houston coach DeMeco Ryans needs edge defenders for his system, and Davenport fits here given his physical traits in both base and sub-packages. Davenport could be schemed to isolate in one-on-one pass-rush matchups or deployed on stunts/slants from the Texans’ loaded fronts. And at 6-foot-6 and 262 pounds, he can also set an edge against the run. While the production declined for Davenport in ’22 (0.5 sacks, 20 pressures), he did record nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 2021.”

Being a three-hour drive from home in San Antonio would probably benefit Davenport, who has struggled with confidence issues and personal troubles since moving to New Orleans back in 2018. So could the coaching he would receive from Ryans and his staff. Ryans had a player with similar traits to Davenport at his disposal in San Francisco (Charles Omenihu, ironically a former Texan) and coached him up to the best year of his career, doubling his previous season pressures total and bagging half of his career sacks.

So a change of scenery and a fresh start with a new coaching staff could help get Davenport get on the right track, at least in theory. And he should have plenty of opportunities. Bowen’s rankings at ESPN have him as the best free agent defensive end, ahead of players like Zach Allen and Yannick Ngakoue. Everyone knows that injuries and inconsistent play have limited Davenport throughout his Saints career. Other teams see his potential too, though, and they might take a big swing at him if they feel they can address at least one of those concerns.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire