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Greg Jennings to visit Saints, per report

After leaving Jacksonville without a deal, Greg Jenning’s free-agent tour will head to New Orleans.

The veteran wide receiver, who was released by the Vikings in March two years into a five-year, $45 million contract, will next meet with the Saints, according to the NFL Network.

Jennings has also visited the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins.

The 31-year-old caught 59 passes for 742 yards with six touchdowns last season for the Vikings.

New Orleans is in the midst of restocking its offense after trading away wide receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jimmy Graham this offseason. The Saints also recently signed wide receiver Joe Morgan to a one-year deal.

Bill Polian expects the Saints to be aggressive in the draft

Bill Polian doesn’t think the Saints are going to stand pat and let the draft come to them.

With nine picks in the draft and three within the first 44 picks, the former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst expects New Orleans to be aggressive in the draft and go after the players it wants. And Polian especially expects this to be the case if defensive players start flying off the board before the Saints come on the clock for the 13th pick.

“I’m not sure they’re going to stand pat,” Polian said during a conference call. “I think they have ammunition to move up and it’s likely they would do so — not likely, but it’s possible they’d do so particularly if the key defensive players start to come off the board early. That’s the reason for trying to move up.”

Polian said he likes the moves the moves the Saints have made this offseason — even if some difficult decisions had to be made to get the salary cap in order.

“While you hate to lose a player of Jimmy Graham’s caliber, you want to try and see if you can’t create a defense that’s very reliable and I think  in their mind that’s job No. 1. However they do that in draft — either standing pat or moving around — I think that’s where their focus is going to be.”

Anthony Spencer’s 1-year deal with the Saints will count $655K against the cap

As expected, the Anthony Spencer signing carries a minimal financial risk for the New Orleans Saints.

The pass rushers’ one-year deal with the Saints comes with an $870,000 base salary and an $80,000 signing bonus. The deal qualifies for the minimum benefit, meaning it counts only $655,000 against the salary cap.

Spencer spent the first eight years of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, where he collected 497 tackles, 33 sacks, and 12 forced fumbles.

The 31-year-old missed 15 games in 2013 due to a knee injury and was limited most of last season, finishing with 12 tackles and shared credit for a sack.

Playing under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in 2011 and 2012, Spencer finished with a combined 17 sacks during those two seasons.

Rounding up the visits: A look at the 12 draft prospects who have or will visit the Saints

A lot is made about which prospects are visiting which teams, but the truth is that this stuff is probably a little overrated. By the time the draft comes around, the Saints will have met with hundreds of prospects at various locations.

Still, New Orleans is allowed to bring in 30 prospects for official visits. Here’s a list of the 13 players we know have or will visit the Saints, via our own reporting and media reports:

Washington CB Marcus Peters (via source)
UCLA LB Eric Kendricks (via source)
Washington State DT Xavier Cooper (via source)
Nebraska DE/LB Randy Gregory (via Fox Sports)
UCLA DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (via source)
Oregon T Jake Fisher (via Fox Sports)
Miami WR Phillip Dorsett (via Tony Pauline)
Pittsburgh T T.J. Clemmings  (via Fox Sports)
Chattanooga LB Davis Tull (via NFL Network)
Utah cornerback Eric Rowe (Via Tony Pauline)
Virginia DE Eli Harold (via Yahoo)
Louisville WR DeVante Parker (via TheMMQB.com)

Source: Marcus Peters and Eric Kendricks visiting Saints on Monday

The Saints continue to show interest in Marcus Peters.

The Washington cornerback is among a handful of players visiting New Orleans for a pre-draft visit on Monday, according to a source. UCLA linebacker Eric Kendricks and Washington State defensive tackle Xavier Cooper are also meeting with the team.

Peters also met with the Saints staff after his Pro Day on April 2.

Peters is considered to be one of the more talented cornerbacks in the draft, but his stock took a hit when he was dismissed from Washington’s program in November following a confrontation with the coaching staff.

At the scouting combine, the cornerback said the rift developed  because he did not take well to the transition from former head coach Steve Sarkisian to new coach Chris Petersen. He’s since apologized and made peace with the coaching staff.

Kendricks is widely considered one of the top players at his position and is coming off a season in which he recorded 149 tackles and four sacks.

Cooper finished last season with 37 tackles, 9.5 for a loss, and five sacks. He also had five sacks as a sophomore.

The Saints have nine picks in the draft, including the 13th, 31st, and 44th selections.

Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory to visit Saints, per report

The Saints are taking a harder look at two of the more interesting prospects in the draft.

After failing a drug test at the scouting combine and discussing his issues with marijuana with NFL.com. Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory will take a pre-draft visit with the Saints, according to Fox Sports.

Gregory, who finished last season with seven sacks, is one of the more talented pass rushers in the draft class and was originally projected to be selected within the first five picks.  However, many now expect that he will be available when the Saints come on the clock for the 13th pick.

If the Saints are to have interest in him, a lot will ride on his pre-draft visit.

Louisville WR DeVante Parker to visit Saints, per report

Perhaps wide receiver is of interest to the New Orleans Saints.

The Saints will use one of their 30 pre-draft visits to meet with Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker, according to Robert Klemko of TheMMQB.com.

Parker also has visits scheduled with the Patriots, Ravens, Jets, Rams, Titans and 49ers.

Parker is considered by many to be one of the top receivers in the draft and is expected to be selected in the first round.

Despite missing seven games, the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder caught 43 passes for 855 yards with five touchdowns as a senior.

The Saints have nine picks in the draft, including the 13th, 31st and 44th selections.

 

Saints sign LB Anthony Spencer to a 1-year deal

<<FULL STORY HERE>>

Rob Ryan will have a familiar face working in his revamped defense next season.

After visiting with the Saints last month, Anthony Spencer has signed a one-year deal with New Orleans, the team announced on Friday. The move reunites Spencer with Ryan, his defensive coordinator in Dallas during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Spencer logged one half-sack over 13 games last season, though he was coming off a knee injury that limited him to one game during the 2013 season. Over his eight-year career, the 31-year-old has 497 tackles, 33 sacks and 12 forced fumbles.

Spencer  has the ability to play both defensive end in a 4-3 front and outside linebacker in a 3-4, which will be appealing to Ryan since he employees both alignments. It also helps that Spencer was at his best playing under Ryan.

Long a productive pass rusher, Spencer hit his stride playing under Ryan in Dallas. He recorded six sacks and 66 tackles during the 2011 campaign, but truly hit his stride the next season when he finished with a career-high 11 sacks and 95 tackles over 14 games.

Ryan left Dallas following that season and Spencer suffered a knee injury that limited him over the next two seasons.

While the terms of the deal are not yet known, when the numbers become public, this will likely be revealed to be a low-risk move for the Saints. However, the upside could pay dividends.

New Orleans struggled to generate consistent pressure last season with its pass rush and getting stronger in that area has been considered one of the top priorities of the offseason. If he proves healthy and productive, Spencer could provide depth off the edges behind Cam Jordan and Junior Galette.On third downs or obvious passing situations, Spencer could also rush off the edge while Jordan moves inside to defensive tackle.

Nick Underhill’s 5-round mock draft for the New Orleans Saints

Earlier today I wrote about the potential benefits of moving out of the 13th pick and began to wonder how that might play out for the New Orleans Saints. So, with that in mind, I put together a mock draft that features a few trades.

Please note that this is a look at what I think the Saints should do in the draft if all the top edge rushers are gone, and not necessarily what I think they will do. No one knows how the draft will play out.

Round 1, Pick 13: Traded to Cincinnati Bengals

Round 1, Pick 21: DT Malcom Brown, Texas

What the Saints do with their first pick depends almost entirely on who is available when they come on the clock. In this projection all the top edge rushers — Florida’s Dante Fowler, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Missouri’s Shane Ray, and Kentucky’s Bud Dupree — are gone.

The only one that remains is Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, and the Saints trade away the 13th pick so the Bengals can select him. Gregory is clearly one of the better prospects in this draft, but I’m not sure New Orleans will be willing to gamble on him due to character concerns. So, instead, it moves down in the first round to select Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown.

Perhaps 21 is too far of a drop. Maybe the Saints move back only a couple of spots and still select Brown. The point is they can drop down a little to get better value and additional selections.

This pick would help the Saints get a better inside push and solidify a run defense that was shaky at times last season.

Round 1, Pick 31: OLB/DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa, UCLA

With the top edge rushers gone, the Saints pick one up a little later in the first round by selecting Odighizuwa.

The 6-foot-3, 267-pounderfinished last season with 61 total tackles, 11.5 for a loss, and six sacks last season. He was also a top performer at the combine in the 40-yard dash (4.62 seconds), vertical (39 inches) and broad (127 inches) jumps, and the 20-yard shuttle (4.19 seconds).

Selecting him at this spot would give New Orleans more depth at the position and allow the Saints to their spots with personnel in passing and rushing situations.

Round 2, Pick 33: Trade up to select UCLA LB Eric Kendricks

New Orleans packages the 44th pick and the selection acquired in the Bengals trade to move up and select linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Kendricks was one of the more productive tacklers and possesses the ability to get to the sidelines. His presence would shore up a linebacker group that is in a state of transition following the release of Curtis Lofton.

And by moving up to select Kendricks, who is scheduled to visit with the Saints, New Orleans would pick up three potential starters within its first three picks.

Round 3, Pick 75: OL Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah

The Saints will likely move forward with Jahri Evans and Tim Lelito at guard, but the future must be considered, which is why Jeremiah Poutasi is the pick here.

The Utah product is still very raw and could benefit from better technique. He would be afforded time to his craft in New Orleans with the starting spots sewn up, while serving as depth at both guard and tackle.

Round 3, Pick 78: CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon

How many rookies can make the team next season?

There’s no guarantee that Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will be ready to contribute after suffering a knee injury in December. So, with plenty of picks, the Saints can afford to red shirt Ekpre-Olomu.

This could be the biggest value in the draft. If healthy, Ekpre-Olomu might have been the top cornerback in the draft. By taking him here, assuming he makes a full recovery, it would almost be like getting a first-round talent for 2016.

Round 5, Pick 148: WR Darren Waller, Georgia Tech

A 6-foot-6 receiver who clocked in at 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash? Darren Waller is the kind of guy who fits the profile of a Saints receiver.

He’s raw and will need to be coached up, but he knows how to use his size and can get down the field in a hurry.

Round 5, Pick 154: CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane

The Saints picked up Kyle Wilson to cover the slot, but some competition could be used there. New Orleans takes Tulane’s Lorenzo Doss to compete for the job.

UCLA LB Eric Kendricks to visit Saints

The Saints will take a look at Eric Kendricks next week during a pre-draft visit, a source confirmed.

The UCLA linebacker is widely considered one of the top players at his position and is coming off a season in which he recorded 149 tackles and four sacks.

NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread first reported Kendricks’ visit.

The Saints have the 13th, 31st, and 44th picks in the draft. In a recent ESPN mock draft, Mel Kiper left Kendricks out of the first round.

NFL.com reports that Kendricks also recently met with the Dallas Cowboys.