Saints to reportedly add two big pieces to their defense via free agency


The Saints (and their fans) have talked for years about how an average defense would put the team over the top. Last year, they put their money where their mouth is. After ranking 17th in total defense, the unit’s best since ranking No. 4 in 2013 (31st, 31st and 27th in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively), the Saints want to do better than average.

In their quest to get there, the Saints signed cornerback Patrick Robinson and linebacker Demario Davis. According to ESPN, Robinson’s deal is reportedly four years for $20 million ($10 million guaranteed), while Davis’s is expected to be three years for $24 million ($18 million guaranteed). The moves come in the wake of Drew Brees signing a two-year, $50 million contract to make sure the offense continues its outstanding production under Sean Payton.

Robinson will find himself looking at a lot more friendly faces in New Orleans than when he started his career there. A 2010 first-round draft pick (No. 32 overall) by the Saints, Robinson never performed up to expectations. Once he left, he played three seasons for three different teams, joining the Chargers and Colts before eventually winning a Super Bowl with the Eagles.

Robinson, who will turn 31 in September, enjoyed the best season of his career with Philadelphia. He played in the slot for nearly the entire year and posted four interceptions, tied for a career high — not to mention a pick-six in the NFC Championship Game against the Vikings. The Saints will likely still line star corner Marshon Lattimore on teams’ No. 1 receivers, while Ken Crawley will get the opposite side. Robinson can stay in his home in the slot next season.

As for Davis, he addresses the Saints’ most glaring defensive need, and perhaps the most glaring on the team: linebacker. Craig Robertson played well for the Saints last year, but Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein never shored up the linebacking corps particularly well. The jury is still out on Klein, a 2017 free agent signing, but Davis getting starter money will let defensive coordinator Dennis Allen move his linebackers around this year, something he was limited in last year.

Davis recorded 135 combined tackles and 97 tackles in 2017, both career highs. He also had three passes defended and five sacks. The Saints blitzed heavily on third downs last year, so we can expect to see a lot of Davis coming after quarterbacks next season.

The signing of Robinson may be deepening an already good position, but signing Davis is the real get. After the excellent season he had, it’s a solid move for a team that desperately needs linebackers that can play the ball and drop into coverage. The Saints looked like legitimate contenders last year. Now they want to bolster their defense to keep up with an already solid offense.

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