The #Saints have had trade conversations about potentially dealing DT Malcom Brown, sources say. In the third year of a 3-year, $15M contract, a trade or release would save NO about $5M against the cap – and obviously they have a lot of work to do to get under the cap.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2021
While speculation on Russell Wilson has been all the rage in New Orleans, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports one name the Saints have discussed moving: nose tackle Malcom Brown. Entering the final year of his contract with $5 million in savings should he be cut or traded, it makes sense for New Orleans to explore all opportunities.
Brown, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, has been a great anchor in the middle of the Saints defense since signing a three-year, $15 million contract with them in 2019. It’s no accident that their yearslong streak of games played without surrendering 100-plus rushing yards to a single runner was snapped during his absence last season.
But run-stopping nose tackles like him are less valuable than pass rushers, and the Saints have found success in adding undrafted rookies like Shy Tuttle and Malcolm Roach in recent years. After signing David Onyemata to a long-term contract extension last summer, they probably want to rely on more cheap talent next to him in the middle of the defense.
Still, losing Brown would hurt. Especially if the Saints also see Sheldon Rankins walk away in free agency. That would leave Onyemata and Tuttle as the only defensive tackles to play more than 300 snaps last year. Maybe the Saints could fill that void by adding a highly-valued rookie like Levi Onwuzurike, who we picked in a recent seven-round mock draft.
Trades can be agreed to now, but nothing is official until the start of the new league year on March 17. It’s unclear exactly what New Orleans could gain in a trade for Brown, but maybe they can find someone willing to swap a conditional fifth-round pick for him — that’s what the Detroit Lions traded the New York Giants for nose tackle Damon Harrison in 2018. The Saints currently don’t have a fifth round pick; it’s expected to convey this year as part of the Kwon Alexander trade.