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2018 NFL Free Agency

Looking at a Few of the Rumors Surrounding the New Orleans Saints Ahead of 2018 NFL Free Agency

Although you'd never realize it because of all the trades that have been made in the past 2 days, the "official" start of NFL Free Agency isn't until Wednesday for your New Orleans Saints and the rest of the NFL's 32 teams.

With several NFL teams such as the Cleveland Browns and the Los Angeles Rams "wheeling and dealing" in recent days ahead of the arrival of the signing period, Saints fans are becoming antsy over the fact that their team hasn't been one of the teams involved in all of the action.

But that doesn't mean that they won't......or at least not yet anyway.

As of right now, the biggest stories surrounding the Saints have been the impending contract situation regarding QB Drew Brees, and the possible return of former tight end Jimmy Graham; who we listed as the #1 likely target for New Orleans once the signing period begins (click HERE).

Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

While some Saints fans are in a state of panic over Brees and the remote possibility that he would actually leave New Orleans, it's a LONG SHOT at best that Brees will actually decide to go anywhere, and it's expected that he will most definitely agree to play the final years of his remarkable career in NOLA.

But there are other players that Saints fans are hoping to see end up as the newest members of the Black and Gold, and while some are distinct possibilities, others are simply just "rumors" — and this morning, the Saints News Network addresses a few of them.

And we'll start with.....

 

The Seattle Seahawks are Having a "Yard Sale" — But Will They Make All-Pro Linebacker Bobby Wagner Available?

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

In the past week, the Seahawks have began releasing a handful of defensive stars from their vaunted "Legion of Boom" defense, as they seek to began a rebuilding phase for the "next era" of their franchise.

Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, and DeShawn Snead are just a few of the players either traded or released by Seattle within the last couple of days.

However, if there was any one player that Saints fans would LOVE to see in the Black and Gold, it's Wagner; who most analysts and observers feel is one of — if not THE — best inside linebacker in Pro Football.

But....would the Seahawks make him available?

Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

Wagner is an annual Defensive Player of the Year candidate, a 3-time All-Pro and is still as fast and smart as ever at age 27 (he turns 28 in June). Wagner didn't even miss a single tackle last year, until he hurt his hamstring in Week #13.

With a player of his caliber, you'd have to believe that the Seahawks would either keep Wagner as the "centerpiece" of their planned rebuild (along with safety Earl Thomas); or would likely put a very steep price (as in a 1st Round draft pick either this year or next) on any compensation they'd get back in a possible trade.

So unless the Seahawks suddenly become willing to give up the player who arguably is still the best one remaining on their roster for 2018, the likelihood of him ending up in New Orleans is slim to none.

At this point: the mention of Wagner as a potential trade target for the Saints is nothing more than "wishful thinking" on the part of a few overzealous Saints fans on Social Media.

 

Could Ndamukong Suh Become a Saint?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

According to Dianna Russini of ESPN, the Dolphins are "discussing" whether or not to cut the 31-year old Suh, who of course Saints fans know at one time used to be considered the most "feared" defensive lineman in all of Pro Football after an All-American career at the University of Nebraska from 2005-2009.

Suh will have a salary cap number of $26.1 million in 2018 for Miami, which means that the relationship between player and franchise could be coming to a very quick and abrupt end down in South Florida; as the Dolphins seek ways to free up money for the upcoming Free Agency period and further beyond.

The Dolphins would take a $22 million dead cap hit by releasing Suh, and save only $3.9 million against the cap. But if they designate him a post-June 1 cut (he can always be released before then), half that dead cap hit will be rolled over to 2019, meaning Miami would save about $15 million against the 2018 cap.

The Dolphins signed Suh to a massive six-year, $114.4 million contract in 2015, and Suh’s production has been on the decline ever since. He registered only 4.5 sacks and 38 combined tackles in 2017.

But despite being in his early 30's now, some believe that Suh is still a top-notch defensive tackle. He's still considered to be one of the best run defenders in the game, and an argument could be made that he still might be considered one of the best defensive tackles in the entire sport — despite his disappointing campaign last season.

Photo courtesy of Michael DeMocker, The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Just NOT for $26 million worth from Miami's point of view, which has squarely made Suh the subject of trade rumors; although Suh very likely would have to willingly accept a significant reduction in pay where ever he ends up.

In recent days, the Saints have been mentioned as one of the teams interested in being a potential trade partner for his services, but that hasn't been confirmed by anyone who's a "reliable source".

However, there's been no word out of Miami as to what their true intentions are regarding the Portland, Oregon native, so any "rumors" regarding his next potential landing spot (which would include New Orleans), is mere speculation more than anything else at this point.

Also keep in mind: the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles are thought to be one of the teams that would be a favorite to land him, since Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was Suh's former head coach during his time with the Detroit Lions.

 

Is NOLA a "Preferred Destination" for Former New York Jets Defensive Lineman Muhammad Wilkerson? 

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

While the first two players being "linked" to the Saints via the latest Free Agent rumors haven't proven to be accurate or reliable, Wilkerson is a different story.

As you're probably aware: the Saints and Wikerson had a meeting this past Thursday evening, to discuss the possibility of the 6-foot-4, 315 pound former Pro Bowl defensive lineman with the New York Jets playing the next phase of his professional career in NOLA.

Wilkerson, 28, spent the previous seven seasons in the Big Apple before being released in February. He entered the league in 2011 out of Temple University as a 1st-round pick (30th overall) for then head coach Rex Ryan. He has appeared in 105 career games with 101 starts, totaling 243 tackles, 44 1/2 sacks, two interceptions, 28 passes defensed and 10 forced fumbles.

In 2016, Wilkerson signed a five-year, $86 million extension with New York, but two disappointing seasons and $36.8 million later, he's back on the market. Wilkerson was projected to earn around $20 million in 2018, but will now count just $6 million against the salary cap. By releasing him, the Jets were able to free up $11 million in salary-cap space.

Thus far, Wilkerson has had visits with the Packers, Saints, Chiefs and the Oakland (soon-to-be Las Vegas) Raiders. He's scheduled to visit the Redskins in Washington D.C. tomorrow morning, although there's no word yet if he plans on meeting with any other potential suitors.

Should Wilkerson sign with New Orleans, it's likely the Saints would use Wilkerson in a variety of ways along their defensive line; since the versatile New Jersey native is capable of playing along the interior as a DT, and even line up on the outside edge as a strongside DE.

But first, Wilkerson will have to decide which of the teams he's visited with, best meet up with his goals for the remainder of his career. Will the lure of playing for an "up and coming" team like the defending NFC South Champions Saints, make NOLA a preferred destination for him?

It's very possible, but the thing to remember for Saints fans is that "rumors" are just that; so unless you hear it from a source that you KNOW is reliable, you probably should take it with a degree of skepticism.

With 2018 NFL Free Agency officially just a few days away, Saints fans will just have to have exercise a little more patience until they find out who is going where, and to see if New Orleans will be the place that some of the NFL's biggest names, could ultimately decide to call "home"......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist and Lead Analyst Barry Hirstius is a 50-year old semi-retired journalist and former New Orleans area sports editor and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints NFL football team. Additionally, he is a frequent guest on a variety of Sports Talk Radio programs that cover the Saints. Barry is also a New Orleans native that dating all the way back to his childhood in the early 1970's, attended games at the old Tulane Stadium and grew up as a long-time Saints fan; following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.......

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