There are going to be some New Orleans Saints players who are suiting up for other teams in the fall. That’s just the nature of the sport. With free agency ahead of us to fully usher in the 2023 offseason, it’s wise to keep up with with the players who may be on the move.
And Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger has some suggestions on where they may go. PFF listed one offensive and defensive target for each team, with several Saints players making the cut. Here are his thoughts on the best fits for Jarvis Landry and David Onyemata — plus Michael Thomas:
WR Jarvis Landry: Philadelphia Eagles
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“The Eagles will be busy working to bring back almost their entire starting defense this offseason, and after trading for and extending wide receiver A.J. Brown last offseason, odds are they’ll make just minor additions in 2023 — especially if they extend quarterback Jalen Hurts as expected.
Landry averages a low target depth from the slot and could feast underneath with so much attention on the outside. And after missing most of the 2022 season with an injury, he is likely looking at one-year flier contract offers once again in 2023. Much like JuJu Smith-Schuster with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022, if Landry wants to boost his stock by going to a high-powered offense and contending for a Super Bowl, Philadelphia is a great option.
Landry is also known to be a good veteran leader, which could be a nice addition to a young group of offensive weapons. He’s coming off the two worst seasons of his career but was arguably the best slot receiver in the NFL from 2015-20. His 3,938 receiving yards, 1,748 yards after the catch, 1,166 yards after contact and 91 explosive receptions were all the most among receivers when lined up in the slot over the span, and he could bounce back in a major way in 2023.
DT David Onyemata: Carolina Panthers
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“Former top-10 pick Derrick Brown had a breakout 2022 season as a stout run-defending nose tackle with pass-rush upside, and bringing aboard a three-technique who can get upfield in a hurry could create a scary tandem on the interior.
Over the last three seasons, Onyemata’s 11.4% pressure percentage ranks 11th among interior defenders, and his 113 total pressures rank 17th despite missing the first six games of the 2022 season due to a suspension. He’s also a solid run defender — his 45 run defense stops and 14 tackles for loss or no gain are both top 50 marks at the position over the span.”
WR Michael Thomas: Chicago Bears
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“While Thomas isn’t officially a free agent just yet, he will be once free agency begins in mid-March, with the Saints renegotiating his contract to enable them to designate him as a June 1 cut for cap purposes. Reuniting Bears quarterback Justin Fields with one of his former wide receiver teammates from Ohio State is a fun topic of discussion for many, and while Thomas missed that window by a few years, the two are both former Buckeyes.
The best way to help a young quarterback progress as a passer is to get him an elite No. 1 wide receiver, as evidenced by teams like the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles in recent seasons, to name a few. While Thomas obviously has serious injury concerns, the free-agent wide receiver class doesn’t have any other true X receivers, and Chicago already traded the No. 32 overall pick for Chase Claypool. If any team should be willing to take a risk on Thomas, it’s the Chicago Bears and their league-leading $107 million in projected 2023 cap space.
Even in another injury-shortened 2022 campaign, Thomas flashed his elite ability, with his 77.4 receiving grade 12th among wide receivers, his three touchdown receptions tied for second and his eight contested catches the most in the NFL. Thomas may not be the same player who brought in an NFL-record 149 receptions in 2019, but he’s more than worth the gamble for Chicago as they look to spend major resources at pretty much every other position on the roster. “