Former Saint Trey Hendrickson listed among NFL’s most underrated defenders

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Ouch. Well, hey, good for Trey Hendrickson: the former New Orleans Saints defensive end made the cut for Doug Farrar’s list of the most underrated defenders in the NFL over at Touchdown Wire, and for great reason. Hendrickson led the Cincinnati Bengals in sacks (14) and overall quarterback pressures (87, per Pro Football Focus charting) after leaving New Orleans in free agency last offseason. So it’s safe to say he’s doing well for himself.

Hendrickson is one of three edge defenders to make Farrar’s list, along with John Franklin-Myers (New York Jets) and Rashan Gary (Green Bay Packers). Here’s what Farrar had to say of Hendrickson after his big year with Cincinnati:

“There are times as an analyst where you do your best, you think you have it right, and in the end, you have to take the L. Hopefully, you learn from it, and you move on. When the Bengals signed former Saints edge-rusher Trey Hendrickson to a four-year, $60 million contract in March, 2021, I panned the deal, giving it a B- because Hendrickson didn’t offer a lot of gap versatility. I thought that Hendrickson might be limited in a Bengals defense that wasn’t as versatile upfront.

Uh… whoops. I would hereby like to apologize to Mr. Hendrickson, and anybody else I may have offended. Hendrickson wasn’t very gap-versatile in 2021 for the AFC champs — he played 835 snaps outside the tackles and 56 inside — but if you have a fastball with enough velocity and movement… sometimes that’s all you need. In the 2021 season, only Maxx Crosby and Nick Bosa had more total pressures than Hendrickson’s 87, tying with the aforementioned Rashan Gary for third-best in the league.”

There was some though at the time of Hendrickson’s signing that he was just a one-year wonder. He’d doubled his career sacks total in 2020 after spending the first three seasons as an afterthought in the Saints’ rotation, having missed a lot of time with injuries. But credit to him for putting it all together and maximizing his value to earn a nice payday from the Bengals and some well-deserved acknowledgement.

I’d hesitate to say the Saints made a mistake in letting Hendrickson walk, though. With the salary cap crunch in effect amid the COVID-19 pandemic, New Orleans had to make some tough choices, and ended up letting players like Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, and Jackrabbit Jenkins walk away so they could retain others and issue the franchise tag to Marcus Williams. It’s disappointing that they couldn’t sign Williams to a long-term deal after that, and he did ultimately leave in free agency, but we should be looking at both situations separately. When you draft and develop talented players as often as the Saints have, inevitably some of them will move on.

Still, it’s going to be impossible not to ask whether the team would be better off with Hendrickson still around on a high salary as opposed to, say, still-unproven first round picks like Marcus Davenport or Payton Turner. Hendrickson is just 27 years old and may have been a nice succession plan for Cameron Jordan (who turns 33 in July).

Let’s save the “shoulda, woulda, coulda” talk for another day and just hope Hendrickson doesn’t have too big of a game when he and his Bengals teammates (including other ex-Saints like Vonn Bell and Eli Apple) visit New Orleans on Oct. 16. Ryan Ramczyk, Trevor Penning, and the rest of the Saints offensive line are going to have their hands full.

List

PHOTOS: Check out best pics of Saints rookie WR Chris Olave at OTAs