After yet another disappointing season, the New Orleans Saints knew that there needed to be a lot more changes for the upcoming year. With a couple of free agency signings and the re-signings of a few of their own players, the Saints aren’t sitting quietly by and letting other teams advance. Now, they’ve made another big-time move and addressed a huge need by signing pass rusher Alex Okafor who is formerly of the Arizona Cardinals.
As reported by ESPN, the 26-year-old linebacker is coming off of another good season, and he has totaled 13.5 sacks in the last three years. Alex Okafor still has a lot of upside to him, and he’s going to get even better than he is now, but he is a big improvement over what the Saints have had coming off the edge of the defensive line for the last few seasons.
Terms of the Saints’ deal with Okafor are not yet known, but it is not expected to be for major money. Still, New Orleans addressed one of their serious needs and is likely going to see a big improvement on defense with Okafor in there.
Speaking of defense, the Saints also have a visit planned with a former Super Bowl star later this week.
Originally thought to be part of the Brandin Cooks’ trade with the New England Patriots, NFL.com now reports that cornerback Malcolm Butler has a visit to New Orleans planned for Thursday. Even after he didn’t end up being a part of the trade for Cooks, the Saints are working hard to bring him in, and talks have already started.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2017
Right now, the New England Patriots have a first-round tender placed on Butler and it would pay him 43.91 million in 2017. That also allows the Patriots to match any offer sheet made to Butler by other NFL teams, and that includes the New Orleans Saints.
If the Saints end up going after Butler and signing him, the Patriots would have to decide if they want to match the offer or not. If they don’t, they Saints will be forced to part ways with their first-round pick in 2017 which is the number 11 spot.
New Orleans is truly trying to strengthen their defense, and they did that by re-signing Nick Fairley a few days ago. TheTimes-Picayune broke down the new deal which is four years for $28 million, and it is worth it for Fairley who had a great season in 2016.
While the defense needs a great deal of help, the Saints are also working on improving their offense as well.
Wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. has torched the Saints for a number of years as a member of the Carolina Panthers, but now, the speedster is wearing black and gold. The 32-year-old recently signed a three-year/$11 million deal with the Saints, and he is ready to work with a veteran quarterback as Pro Football Talk reported.
“That’s why it was very important to find a home like I found, because Drew Brees is the type of guy that can extend your career, man, and that’s what it’s all about.
“They have a pretty good sight of how they want to use me, and just over the years they’ve learned how to use different receivers to bring out their talent. I pretty much knew what type of organization they was, without even being in their building. And I already knew that I was gonna be able to come down and be a factor for ’em. And that’s all I want to be, is be a factor. I don’t have to be the superstar. I don’t have to be the guy that catches every pass on every down.”
Alex Okafor is a great pick-up for the New Orleans Saints in the second week of NFL free agency, but there is still more work to be done. A visit with cornerback Malcolm Butler could end up being a match made in heaven, but the price may end up being a bit too step for the Saints to pay. So far, the team is addressing its needs even if some moves have been questionable, but they want to have a much better year in 2017 and are working hard for it now.
[Featured Image by Norm Hall/Getty Images]