The New Orleans Saints have been busy this week as the new league year has started today and they were able to retool a position of need with two new signings. New Orleans already lost Shy Tuttle, David Onyemata and Marcus Davenport that puts the interior of the Saints defense very thin. Finding bodies on the interior of the defensive line was a blaring need for New Orleans and that became more apparent with the loss of three defensive tackles.
The black and gold were able to fill those holes by signing defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders. Both will be looking to fit the mold of a position of need and they provide great value in the free agency period. Learn more about the new Saints that will be joining the roster heading into the 2023 season:
Shepherd has spent five seasons with the New York Jets and he is coming off one of his best years as a pass rusher. During the 2022 season, Shepherd appeared in all 17 games for the Jets, with three of them being starts. The 29-year old finished the 2022 season with 33 tackles (10 solo) and 1.5 sacks. His best game of the season would come in a 22-17 loss to the Patriots. In that game against New England, Shepherd recorded three total tackles (two solo) and a sack.
a look at newly signed defensive tackle, nathan shepherd 💪 pic.twitter.com/znUR63Kpb2
— Trace (@yfntrace) March 15, 2023
He was able to contribute from the second unit of the defensive line and was able to provide a valuable role in the defensive line rotation. Shepherd is listed at 6-foot-3 and 315 pounds. With his stature, he will be able to fit right in what New Orleans has been looking for along the interior of their defensive line.
Saunders joins Shepard as the second defensive tackle on the day for the Saints and he is coming off one of his best seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. During the 2022 season, Saunders registered a career-high three tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He was able to finish the 2022 season with 18 pressures and showed that he can be a viable option on the interior of the defensive line.
Khalen Saunders gets home! @khalenNOTkaylen
📺: #TENvsKC on NBC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/ExOeMHivBX pic.twitter.com/crvOuvyGA1
— NFL (@NFL) November 7, 2022
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the deal for Saunders to the Saints is valued at up to $14.5 million and it is a three-year deal, which is a great value for a key player from the Super Bowl champions’ defense. The 26-year old defensive tackle is listed at 6-foot and 324 pounds. Some are able to move quick with his size, but Saunders is in the category of showing his quickness off of the line. Saunders is coming off a career-high 511 defensive snaps for the Chiefs last season. In his four years with the Chiefs, Saunders played in 38 games and recorded 81 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a pair of passes broken up.
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