With only a single day remaining before the NFL’s trade deadline hits, the Saints are shopping edge defender Hau’oli Kikaha, according to Doug Kyed of NESN (Twitter link). Ian Rapoport of NFL.com first indicated earlier this month Kikaha could become a trade candidate.
New Orleans’ defense has shown tremendous improvement in 2017 — the unit ranked 15th in DVOA through Week 7 — but Kikaha hasn’t been part of that turnaround, as the former second-round pick has played only 82 snaps this season. Kikaha, who tore his ACL for third time last year and missed the entirety of the 2016 campaign, has been surpassed on the Saints’ depth chart by A.J. Klein and Gerald Hodges, and hasn’t been able to see action even with rookie ‘backer Alex Anzalone on injured reserve.
That’s not to say that another club wouldn’t be interested in acquiring a player of Kikaha’s pedigree. He was a second-rounder for a reason, after all, and Lance Zierlein of NFL.com called Kikaha the “most accomplished pure edge rusher” in the 2015 draft class. He’s cheap, too — an acquiring team would only take on the rest of Kikaha’s $913K base salary in 2017 and his non-guaranteed $1.153MM salary in 2018.
If they are able to trade Kikaha, the Saints could begin to recoup some of the draft capital they’ve dealt away in recent months. General manager Mickey Loomis sent a 2018 second-round pick to the 49ers in order to land Alvin Kamara in the draft, and a Kikaha trade — plus the haul acquired for linebacker Stephone Anthony and running back Adrian Peterson — could help defray the costs of the Kamara package.