Despite no news of a visit or being in talks, the Saints made a great move this afternoon by agreeing to terms with former Patriots DT Malcom Brown. Brown is coming off of his rookie contract after being drafted at the end of the first round in 2015. In fact, he was selected one pick after the Saints selected Stephone Anthony. The 6’2″ 320-pounder’s new deal with the Saints is a three-year $15M deal. The signing comes on the same day that the Saints and Drew Brees restructured his contract to open up $10.8M of cap space this offseason.
Brown has totaled 8.5 sacks and 14 tackles for a loss over his first four year, most of which took place during his first three. He was deployed as much of a run-stop specialist last season and played the fewest amount of snaps in his career. So don’t let his down numbers from last season fool you. He’s also piled up more than 30 run stops, according to PFF, in all but last season. He’s a reliable run stopped who’s shown that he can get to the QB from time to time as well.
Brown will by no means replace Sheldon Rankins while he’s out with his injury. But he’s definitely a step up from the Saints’s Tyeler Davison who looks to be headed out of New Orleans with this signing. Though it remains to be seen. Nick Underhill reported today that while Rankins is not expected to miss the entire season, there’s reason to expect he starts on the PUP list and misses the first six games.
In addition, David Onyemata faces a potential suspension due to his recent charges for marijuana possession. Brown will help smooth over the needs on the defensive line and eliminates that need from the draft. The Saints set out to fill holes in free agency so that they can target best player available in the draft every year. They’re on their way to achieving that this time around.
The Saints had the #2 run defense in the league last year separated from the top spot by a less than a yard. Brown will continue to be an excellent rotational piece once the defensive line is back and running. The teams is making strides to maintain that excellence versus the run game with this signing.
In other defensive line news, Josh Katzenstein also reported that it’s unlikely at this time that Alex Okafor will return to the Saints. There’s a schedule visit for Ziggy Ansah today that could help the Saints bandage that hole, but it will be up to Davenport soon to step up into the role he was drafted to assume eventually. The signing of Malcom Brown here proves beneficial again with the young guy being able to focus on the edge as opposed to trying to help cover weakness up the middle.
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