A review of the 2016 Saints Defensive Tackles.
We will be reviewing the Saints roster as it currently stands leading up to free agency and the draft. Last week we reviewed the Saints Defensive Ends. This week it’s the Defensive Tackle position.
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Nick Fairley-Free Agent
With all the talk about past Saints free agent busts, the Saints certainly hit on this one. Essentially Fairley signed a one year deal worth three million dollars for the 2016 season. The 2017 officially kicks off March 9th. The Saints have until 15 days before that date (February 23) to reach an extension with Fairley.
Otherwise he’ll be a free agent in 2017.
Why the Saints would want to get this done? For one Fairley was a defensive force from the tackle position in 2016. He finished with 6.5 sacks which were a career high for the six year veteran.
Those 6.5 sacks were second only to Cam Jordan on the Saints defense. He also finished with a career high in tackles.
The only blemish on his 2016 season would have been a horrible personal foul called at Kansas City, keeping a Chiefs drive alive when the trailing Saints were about to get the ball back late in the game. Fairley has said he wants to stay in New Orleans. The Saints have the money to make it happen. We should find out more in a few weeks.
The first round draft pick was supposed to form a one, two defensive tackle tandem with Fairley in 2016. That combo would take a little time to hit the field after a broken leg in training camp sidelined Rankins for the first eight games of the season.
In just eight games coming off that injury Rankins provided the Saints with solid play that included four sacks. The future is bright for Rankins in New Orleans. He’s a big piece of the puzzle to put a solid defense back in the big easy. The eight games he played were just an appetizer of what is come from him in 2017. Saints fans are looking forward to seeing Rankins for a full season.
The second year pro grew into is position along the line in 2016. While he didn’t get any sacks like he got as a rookie. You don’t expect many from a 1 tech defensive tackle. He’s becoming a solid rotational tackle and filled in well in Rankins absence.
This was a year of growth for Davison who revealed after the season that he was playing all year with a torn labrum suffered in Week 2. It appears as this team improves Davison will be a key player in that improvement.
David who? That was the reaction many Saints fans had after the Saints traded up in the fifth round to select the defensive tackle out of the University of Manitoba by way of Nigeria.
Consider the 2016 season to be his redshirt year in the league. Still he finished with 18 tackles in limited playing time. The Saints knew they had to be patient with Onyemata. At draft time phrases like raw and new to the game were thrown around. That may be true, however he also has incredible athleticism and plays with a nasty streak. Expect more from Onyemata in 2017 as he continues to learn the game.
Two straight seasons on the practice squad. Still waiting to make his mark on the Saints roster.
Signed late in 2016, Zimmer was originally a undrafted free agent signee by the Buffalo Bills. Coming from Division II, Ferris State, Zimmer may be one of the most athletic 300 pounders on the Saints. He joins Ferris State alum Wide Receiver Jake Lampman on the roster.
Possible practice squad player in 2017.