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It would be a surprise to see the New Orleans Saints trade away players at the NFL trade deadline, but that could help facilitate new pickups. Whether it’s a player-for-player swap or a salary cap-minded move to free up resources to spend at a different position, we can’t rule out anything in the days ahead.
Still, I’d rather see the Saints pursue improvement on offense (especially in the receiving corps). But it’s tough to ignore the quality depth they’ve built up on defense, which could prove useful. Here are a few names on my radar before the Nov. 2 trade deadline:
New Orleans Saints cornerback P.J. Williams (26) runs through drills during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Friday, July 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Williams has had some nice moments as a backup, but his weekly snap counts have gone down since Bradley Roby elbowed his way into the Saints’ dime package (after totaling 68 defensive snaps through the first two weeks, he’s seen just 65 since Week 3). He’s good depth to have but if the Saints could trade him to another team for a wide receiver or pass-catching tight end, they should consider it. SI.com’s Albert Breer reported Williams as someone the Saints could offload in a trade to create salary cap space, which would save $990,000.
New Orleans Saints defensive end Carl Granderson (96) stretches before practice during NFL football training camp in Metairie, Saturday, July 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
Unlike Marcus Davenport and Payton Turner, Granderson has been active for every game the Saints have played this season while averaging 29 defensive snaps each week. He’s also come away with only one sack and a dozen pressures in that span despite playing most often in advantageous passing-down situations. The Saints have gotten better production out of other players like Tanoh Kpassagnon and will likely not play Granderson once everyone is healthy. Breer also listed him as someone who could be involved in a cap-minded trade, saving $850,000. Could he be traded straight up for, say, Andy Isabella?
LB Zack Baun
New Orleans Saints linebacker Zack Baun (53) runs a drill during NFL football training camp in Metairie, Saturday, July 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Derick Hingle)
What is the long-term plan for Baun? To go back to the drawing board in the offseason and hope that he’ll be ready to play in Year 3? Because he looked completely lost and ineffective after injuries pushed him into the starting lineup, which was really discouraging given how well his summer went. Maybe he just needs more time, but it’s really tough to buy into the idea of him replacing Demario Davis or otherwise pushing for meaningful snaps next year. There’s no sign the team is considering a move back to his college position as an edge rusher, so he’s only getting on the field on special teams. Maybe another team could be interested in picking him up.
LT Terron Armstead
SEATTLE, WA – SEPTEMBER 22: Tackle Terron Armstead #72 of the New Orleans Saints looks on prior to the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 22, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Easily the most far-fetched name on this list, I don’t expect Armstead’s name to come up at all over the last few days before the deadline. He’s just too important in helping the Saints get to where they want to go this season as a frisky playoff contender. But it’s been previously reported that the team plans to let him test free agency in the spring. His backup James Hurst has been playing really well. To throw out an “offer you can’t refuse,” would you hang up the phone if a team like the Miami Dolphins offered a first round pick and wide receiver DeVante Parker for him?