Stay or go: Predicting the top Saints unrestricted free agents in 2022

There’s another challenging offseason ahead for the New Orleans Saints. They’ve got to shed tens of millions of negative salary cap space again, and then start to work on re-signing some of their pending free agents. And they’ve got a crop of unrestricted free agents-to-be who are headed for the open market, which brings more hurdles than the restricted and exclusive-rights free agents New Orleans must deal with (check here for the full list of expiring contracts).

Obviously some of these unrestricted free agents are more high-profile than others. Entrenched starters like Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams are on deck, as are key backups like P.J. Williams, Kwon Alexander, and Tre’Quan Smith. And what’s to be done with Jameis Winston?

It’s early, but here is where I’m leaning on which of the top Saints unrestricted free agents will stay or go in 2022:

OT Terron Armstead: Go

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The Saints have already signed Ryan Ramczyk to a top-level extension and they’ve got James Hurst on a low-cost deal filled with incentives if he’s starting. So they’re already prepared to move on from Armstead. Injuries limiting him to his fewest snaps played since the 2016 season should just make that decision easier. Armstead deserves a top-tier contract of his own, but between their earlier moves and their own salary cap situation, I don’t anticipate the Saints being the ones to pay it. Doesn’t it make sense for Armstead…

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