Hau’oli Kikaha

Saints Claim LB Kasim Edebali

The Saints have added a familiar face as the team gets ready for its first postseason appearance since 2013. The team has claimed linebacker Kasim Edebali off waivers from the Rams, according to Josh Katzenstein of the The Times-Picayune. To free up a roster spot, New Orleans has placed linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha on injured reserve.

Kasim Edebali (Vertical)

Edebali, 28, had previously been employed by the Saints from 2014-16. His best year in New Orleans came in 2015 when he racked up five sacks in a full season of work. Edebali has bounced around a bit this season, having started the year with the Broncos, before making stops with the Lions, Rams and now the Saints after being cut on three different occasions.

The Saints likely made this move to help replace Kikaha as a reserve pass rusher for the remainder of the season. The third-year player out of Washington University had appeared in 12 games with the Saints, collecting four sacks behind the likes Manti Te’o and Michael Mauti on the depth chart. The former 2015 third-round pick had suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over the Falcons, which surely prompted his move to the IR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Shopping LB/DE Hau’oli Kikaha

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.Hau'oli Kikaha (vertical)

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.

NFC Notes: Kaepernick, Ward, Saints

More is coming out about Colin Kaepernick‘s collusion lawsuit against the NFL. Kaepernick’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, recently shed some light about some of the points they will attempt to prove that collusion exists between the NFL owners in the latest episode of his Reasonable Doubt podcast. Geragos pointed out the need for a “smoking gun” that proves there is coordinated effort from owners from blocking his client from signing with a franchise. In response to a question about a potential email regarding the collusion from Roger Goodell, Geragos stated “there is very good reason to believe that that exists,” the lawyer said (transcription via Pro Football Talk). “The interesting thing will be when the discovery comes, and I expect the discovery to be very quickly.” Even with the confidence coming from the lawyer, the overall sentiment around the case is that collusion will be a difficult charge to prove, but it looks like Kaepernick and his team are serious about their lawsuit and will look far and wide to see if any hard evidence exists.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • New Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward is apparently frustrated with his part-time defensive role, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The reporter passes along that the veteran defensive back is at his “wits end” in regards to his role on the team. Ward was not on the field during Tampa Bay’s fourth quarter collapse at the hands of the Bills. The 30 year-old expected to bring more physicality when he signed a one-year, $4MM deal with the team after he was cut by the Broncos in the preseason. Ward only has 11 total tackles on the year and looks to be on his way out of the rotation after what transpired today.
  • Saints linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha could be on the trading block after his deactivation from today’s contest vs. the Packers, Larry Holder of NOLA.com speculates (Twitter link). It’s a disappointing turn of events for the former 2015 third round pick, who was benched in favor of defensive lineman Al-Quadin Muhammad. However, despite Kikaha’s struggles, the Saints defense has turned the corner in recent weeks, getting another takeaway today, after notching five turnovers last Sunday.
  • In other Saints news, we have now learned that the team’s former veteran cornerback Brandon Browner was arrested for cocaine possession last May, reports Amos Moralle III of NOLA.com. Browner last appeared for the team in 2015, but was mostly ineffective with the team deciding to move on from the defensive back that following offseason.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Ngata, Seahawks

The Vikings are facing a quarterback crossroads, as are the quarterbacks themselves. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL.comSam Bradford traveled to New York late this past week to begin Regenokine treatments in hopes of getting inflammation out of his ailing knee (the treatment involves drawing blood, spinning it down, and re-injecting it into the knee over the course of a few days). He is doing everything he can to ease the pain in his knee, but the fact that he missed three games due to the injury and then was pulled in the second quarter of last week’s contest is obviously not a good sign. In fact, Jay Glazer of FOX Sports said today that Bradford’s knee situation is worse than people know (Twitter link).

Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, will receive an important checkup tomorrow. He is eligible to begin practicing this week, and the physical will determine whether that is feasible. Sources close to Bridgewater say he is ready to go, and if he is, in fact, activated from the PUP list this season, Rapoport says his contract will not toll, which means he will be a free agent at the end of the season. If he is not activated, the contract will toll and he will remain under club control through 2018.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press says it is possible that DT Haloti Ngata, whose contract expires at the end of the year and who suffered a season-ending bicep injury last week, returns to the team in 2018. However, Birkett believes it is more likely that the longtime star retires.
  • The Seahawks are making a concerted effort to improve their O-line via trade, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who says the team is focused on landing disgruntled Texans star Duane Brown. We heard last week that the Texans intend to retain Brown, but that could always change if Seattle’s offer is strong enough.
  • The 49ers released NaVorro Bowman earlier this week, and Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the team will continue to look to trade and/or release some of its long-term veterans over the next couple of weeks as it embarks on a full-fledged youth movement.
  • The 49ers will carry $4.774MM of dead money on the books in 2018 following Bowman’s release, but they will save all $9.45MM of his 2018 pay, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Rapoport believes the Saints may be in the trading mood after failing to trade for Bowman, and he says the team could consider trading LB Hau’oli Kikaha (Twitter link). Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune, however, suggests (via Twitter) that is not likely.

South Notes: Colts, Hankins, Saints, Titans

Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins‘ three-year deal with the Colts has a maximum value of $30MM and contains $10MM fully guaranteed, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. That guarantee comes in the form of Hankins’ 2017 base salary of $3MM, and a $7MM roster bonus (which has already been paid). Incentives tied to playing time, sacks, and Pro Bowls, plus $1MM in per-game roster bonuses, can push the deal to $30MM, per Graziano and Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Hankins’ $7MM annual average places him tied for 18th among interior defensive linemen, alongside Jurrell Casey and Tyrone Crawford.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • The Saints recently put Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles through a workout, reports Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. New Orleans had also hoped to bring in Bolles for a predraft visit, but Bolles’ packed schedule didn’t allow him time to meet with the Saints. Bolles could be on the board when New Orleans picks at No.11, and as Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune tweets, offensive tackle is an underrated need area for the club. Incumbent left tackle Terron Armstead has had trouble staying healthy, while right tackle Zach Strief is entering his age-33 season.
  • East Carolina receiver Zay Jones is meeting with the Titans today, per Jeff Darlington of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jones, who put up an eye-popping 158 receptions, 1,746 yards, and eight touchdowns in 2016, is the draft’s No. 46 overall player in the estimation of Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, who lauds his “strong hands” and “clean, efficient” route running. Tennessee is in dire need of help at the wideout position, as their current depth chart is lead by Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, and Harry Douglas. Jones could be an option for the Titans with the 18th pick.
  • Saints edge rusher Hau’oli Kikaha took part in offseason workouts today, tweets Katzenstein, an excellent sign after Kikaha missed the entire 2016 campaign with a torn ACL. Kikaha, who also suffered two ACL injuries in college, appeared in 15 games and made 11 starts for New Orleans during his rookie season in 2015. In that time, the 24-year-old racked up four sacks, 50 total tackles, two passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. The Saints are desperate for another pass rusher to play opposite Cameron Jordan, and Kikaha could present that option.
  • Texans wide receiver Braxton Miller has hired Vayner Sports for representation, as the agency announced today (Twitter link). Miller, a 2016 draft pick, won’t become a free agent until 2020, and isn’t even eligible for an extension for two more years. In 10 games last season, Miller played primarily as a slot receiver, and managed 15 receptions for 99 yards and one touchdown. The 24-year-old also returned three kickoffs and one punt, and played 32 special teams snaps in total.

Saints Place Hau’oli Kikaha On PUP

The Saints still had a bit of work to do in order to comply with the league’s 75-man roster limit, and they’ve made a few final moves today. The club announced that it’s released defensive tackle C.J. Wilson; waived linebacker Tony Steward, tight end RaShaun Allen, and cornerback Brandon Dixon; placed defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha on PUP; and placed offensive lineman Avery Young on NFI.Hau'oli Kikaha (vertical)

[RELATED: Saints Release Matt Shaughnessy]

Wilson, 29, agreed to a one-year deal with New Orleans earlier this summer. The veteran defensive lineman has78 career games under his belt, with most of that time coming as a rotational option with Packers from 2010-2013. Wilson played in 12 contests in 2016 (eight with the Lions, four with the Raiders), and picked up nine total tackles to go along with one sack.

Kikaha, meanwhile, appeared in 15 games and made 11 starts for New Orleans in 2015. In that time, the 24-year-old racked up 4 sacks, 50 total tackles, two passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints DE Hau’oli Kikaha Suffers Torn ACL

JUNE 14: Unsurprisingly, Saints head coach Sean Payton said today that 2016 is likely lost for Kikaha. As of now, it remains unknown what type of procedure Kikaha will have to undergo to repair his knee, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. In better news, Payton doesn’t see this as a career-threatening injury.

JUNE 9: Awful news for Saints defensive end Hau’oli Kikaha as he has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports). Given the severity of the injury, Kikaha is likely done for the season.Hau'oli Kikaha (vertical)

[RELATED: Saints Sign Roman Harper]

Unfortunately, this is not new territory for Kikaha as he also suffered two ACL tears in college. The 2015 second-round pick was able to come back strong from both of those ACL tears, but he is surely frustrated with this latest setback.

In his final season at Washington, Kikaha led the nation with 19 sacks and had at least one sack in 13 of his 14 games. The strong performance in his final year marked a tremendous comeback for Kikaha, who torn his ACL as a frosh in 2011 and again as a medical redshirt freshman in 2012.

Last year, the 23-year-old (24 in July) appeared in 15 games and made 11 starts for New Orleans. In that time, he racked up 4 sacks, 50 total tackles, two passes defended, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Reach Deals With Six Draftees

The Saints have signed four of their 2015 draftees and agreed to terms with two more, according to a press release from the club. The two players to reach agreements with the team are the more notable ones — second-round linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha and third-round quarterback Garrett Grayson.

In addition to striking deals with Kikaha and Grayson, the Saints have signed linebacker Davis Tull, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, cornerback Damian Swann, and running back and return specialist Marcus Murphy. Murphy was a seventh-round pick, while the other three players were all selected by New Orleans in the fifth round earlier this month.

All six rookies will count for less than $1MM against the Saints’ cap in 2015, with Kikaha $958K cap number representing the biggest hit among the group. The deals leave New Orleans with just three draft picks left to sign — first-rounders Andrus Peat and Stephone Anthony, along with third-round cornerback P.J. Williams.

To keep tabs on which teams have locked up their 2015 draftees and which players remain unsigned, be sure to check out our tracker.