OT Jermon Bushrod
On the surface, Bushrod is a valuable member of the Saints’ offense. He has allowed just 7 sacks in the last 2 seasons on one of the league’s most pass heavy offenses and made the Pro-Bowl last year. Pro-Bowl offensive tackles are rarely allowed to hit the open market, almost as rarely as Pro-Bowl quarterbacks. However, while Bushrod has one of the most important blindsides in the NFL to protect, he also has one of the easiest. Drew Brees doesn’t quite have Peyton Manning’s legendary pocket presence, but he’s pretty close.
He essentially protects his own blindside with how well he feels the pass rush and how quickly he makes decisions and releases the ball. Brees has only taken a sack 82 times in the last 4 years on 674 pressured drop backs (12.2%), the best rate in the league over that period by who has played in all 4 seasons (sorry, Peyton Manning). A deeper look at Bushrod’s stats shows that he is really a product of Drew Brees’ abilities. Bushrod has allowed 20 quarterback hits and 90 quarterback pressures in the last 2 seasons, yet only the aforementioned 7 sacks.
The Saints were pretty backed up against the cap this offseason and the massive extension they gave to Brees this off-season doesn’t help matters cap wise. The Saints would be wise not to commit another large sum of money for the 2013 season to Bushrod, who is really a replacement level player disguised as a Pro-Bowler with the help of his quarterback. They seem to agree as the two sides have not yet begun long term extension talks. The Saints have Charles Brown, a 2010 2nd round pick, as an in house replacement, if needed, though the Saints would resign Bushrod at the right price.
DT Sedrick Ellis
Ellis is even less likely than Bushrod. The Saints really don’t have the cap space to franchise any position player next offseason, unless they absolutely deserve it and Ellis deserves it even less than Bushrod, unless he can have a bounce back year in 2012. A 2008 1st round pick, Ellis has graded out as a below average defensive tackle on ProFootballFocus since his rookie season in 2008. In 2008, he had 4 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, and 28 quarterback pressures and from 2009 to 2011, he had 11 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 46 quarterback pressures, while struggling as a run stuffer the whole time.
Likelihood: Very unlikely