Trey Hendrickson

Saints May Be Unable To Retain DE Trey Hendrickson

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson was a revelation for the Saints in 2020, piling up 13.5 sacks in an unexpectedly strong platform year. Selected by New Orleans in the third round of the 2017 draft, Hendrickson had never started more than three games nor played in more than 38% of the club’s defensive snaps prior to the 2020 campaign, but he started 15 regular season contests and logged 53% of the Saints’ defensive snaps last year.

As a result, he finds himself being mentioned alongside players like Shaquil Barrett, Yannick Ngakoue, and Bud Dupree as quality pass rushers eligible to hit the open market next month. The Saints would certainly like to keep Hendrickson, but it’s unclear if they will be able to make a competitive offer.

Last week, we learned that the 2021 salary cap was likely to fall between $180MM-$181MM, which represents a significant decrease from the 2020 figure of $198.2MM. Even before the drop, the Saints were projected to be well over the salary cap, and while the club has started to reduce its cap commitments by agreeing to a renegotiated deal with retiring QB Drew Brees and releasing OL Nick Eason, there is still a lot more work to be done.

Former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry details how the Saints can bring themselves under the cap with a series of cuts and restructures, none of which seem particularly difficult to pull off (though they do include the type of machinations that have led to the Saints being right up against the cap, or over it, every offseason). His proposals do not contemplate an extension for Hendrickson, however, whom Corry says may have priced himself out of New Orleans.

Indeed, GM Mickey Loomis recently acknowledged that Hendrickson, 26, is “going to be an attractive free agent for anyone” (via Amie Just of Loomis, who was speaking before the recent reports concerning the 2021 salary cap, said, “I can’t really say how strong a play we can make for that until I understand where the cap’s gonna be this year and as we go through the roster evaluations and start making our choices.”

Assuming the cap does settle in at around $180MM, a franchise tag for Hendrickson would cost about $14.5MM, and it’s unlikely the Saints would be able to carry that full amount on their books in 2021. So the only way for them to retain Hendrickson would be via a multi-year contract, and while the reduced cap could suppress the price tags of some players, it might still be difficult for New Orleans to bring back the Florida Atlantic product.

Hendrickson will doubtlessly be shooting for a deal worth at least $15MM per season, along with guarantees in the $30MM-$40MM range. He does not currently offer much by way of run defense or pass coverage, but the raw sack total he posted will attract plenty of attention, and he should find at least one team willing to meet his asking price. Whether that team is the Saints, who also have decisions to make on fellow free agents Marcus Williams and Sheldon Rankins, is very much an open question.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Nagy, Cowboys, Cards, Pugh

The Chiefs‘ offense bounced back after a rough stretch, going off for 31 points and four Alex Smith touchdown passes in a loss to the Jets. While Kansas City’s defense couldn’t hold up in a shootout, the team will be sticking with the offensive setup that authored the mini-turnaround. OC Matt Nagy will continue to call plays, B.J. Kissel of tweets. The 474 yards the Chiefs put up were the most since their 537-yard explosion against the Patriots in Week 1. The Chiefs host the Raiders in what’s close to a must-win game. Nagy has been mentioned as a head-coaching candidate, and these games he has play-calling responsibilities could be a key factor in whether he’ll get that opportunity in 2018.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • Despite a 2018 roster that almost certainly will still house Chandler Jones, Markus Golden and Haason Reddick, the Cardinals are interested in bringing back outside linebacker Kareem Martin, Mike Jurecki of tweets. Martin’s a pending UFA and has been a part-time starter since being selected in the 2014 third round. Jurecki notes the team likes Martin’s versatility. Although, Arizona has used plenty of capital in stocking this position already.
  • The Cowboys will be without Orlando Scandrick, David Irving and Justin Durant against the Giants on Sunday, Mike Garafolo of tweets. Scandrick suffered two transverse process fractures, while Durant and Irving remain in concussion protocol. The 6-6 Cowboys are clinging to contention and will need to complete a sweep of their NFC East rival to stay in the race.
  • Justin Pugh will be unavailable for the Giants. The upper-echelon blocker now faces the prospect of heading into free agency on a low note. Pugh’s back injury could force him to IR, Tom Rock of Newsday notes. Pugh said he wants to return this season but is also cognizant of his status. “I don’t want to,” he said of the prospect of being shut down for the season. “(But) I don’t want to make (the injury) even worse. It’s not at a point now where I have to get surgery or anything like that, and I don’t want it to get to that point.” Both Pugh and Weston Richburg, who is on IR, will see their contracts expire at season’s end. Pugh’s played in eight games this season.
  • Rookie Saints defensive end Trey Hendrickson is expected to miss multiple weeks due to an ankle injury sustained against the Falcons, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. A third-round pick, Hendrickson has played in 12 games for the Saints this season as a backup.

Draft Pick Signings: 6/1/17

The latest NFL rookies to put pen to paper on their first contracts:

  • The Saints signed their two third-round picks, linebacker Alex Anzalone (pick No. 76) and defensive end Trey Hendrickson (No. 103), as well as sixth-round DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (No. 196) on Thursday (via Anzalone’s Twitter account and Herbie Teope of Thanks in part to shoulder injuries, Anzalone didn’t pick up significant playing time at Florida until last season, when he totaled 53 tackles and three sacks. Despite his relatively modest output with the Gators, Anzalone has the talent to be a three-down starter in the pros, per Lance Zierlein of Hendrickson, meanwhile, was quite productive at Florida Atlantic, where he tallied 41 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks from 2013-16. Most of the damage came over the previous two years, as Hendrickson combined for 30 TFL and 23 sacks in that span. Muhammad, yet another prospect who played his college ball at a Florida-based institution (Miami), is coming off a troubled tenure with the Hurricanes. He missed all of 2014 on account of a suspension stemming from an altercation and then incurred yet another ban last year, one that led to his dismissal from Miami, for a violation of NCAA rules. The last time Muhammad took the field, in 2015, he put up 54 tackles (8.5 for loss) and five sacks.
  • The Packers have signed fourth-round running back Jamaal Williams (No. 134), leaving only one of their 10 picks – third-round defensive tackle Montravius Adamswithout a contract. Williams, the first of three running backs the Packers drafted this year, was a two-time 1,200-yard rusher at BYU. He finished his Cougars tenure with a career year in 2016, amassing 1,375 rushing yards (with a 5.9 yards-per-carry average) and 12 touchdowns in 10 games.