NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The time of year has come to break down the Saints bank. It's our annual look at who gave the Saints the most bang for their buck and whose price tag severely outweighed their production.
Top 5 Best Bargains
5.) Josh Hill
Chalk Hill up to another undrafted gem discovered by the Saints' front office. As the offense's third tight end, Hill became a touchdown machine this season with five on just 14 receptions. He led the Saints in special teams tackles as well. Hill made $495,000 in 2014.
4.) Terron Armstead
The run game was much better in 2014 and I don't think it was any coincidence that it came when Armstead was inserted in the lineup. Though he still has some growing to do in pass protection, Armstead looks like a guy that can be on that line for a long time. He is certainly well worth the $679,000 cap hit.
3.) Mark Ingram
Dare I say Mark Ingram was the steadiest player on the Saints offense this year? He rushed for a career high 964 yards and flashed the kind of ability that made the Saints jump back into the first round back in 2011 to draft him. His future with the team is not certain, but for 2014 he was a bargain with his $1.3 million base salary.
2.) Brandin Cooks
Not sure why people aren't as excited about Cooks' potential as I am. I see a star in the making with a versatile skill set. At worst, he will be a very productive player for this offense for a long time. His rookie season was cut short with an injury but he still finished with 53 receptions for 550 yards and three touchdowns. I look for big things out of Cooks next season. His cap hit in 2014 was only $1.5 million.
1.) Kenny Stills
He may resemble Lance Moore but to me, but Kenny Stills has a much higher ceiling. Stills is able to run smooth routes but also get behind defenses consistently to make big plays. Stills led the Saints in receiving yards (931) and second on the team in receptions (63). Not bad for the 37th highest-paid player on the roster. With a $543,000 Stills is the Saints best bargain of 2014.
Top 5 Most Overpaid
5.) Stanley Jean-Baptiste
I normally wouldn't put a player with a $666K cap hit on this portion of the list. But Jean-Baptiste is a second-round pick playing a position that the Saints severely struggled at. I understand that he was viewed as a project, but for him to not even get on the field is inexcusable.
4.) Patrick Robinson
What a roller coaster ride it has been for the former Saints first-rounder. Robinson went from beating out Champ Bailey in training camp to struggling the first part of the season, to getting benched, to playing special teams and to returning to the starting lineup. At the end of the day, his cap hit of $2.8 million and roller coaster-like production gets him on this list.
3.) Jahri Evans
By the back half of the season, the Saints really struggled along the interior of the offensive line and Evans was one of the culprits. Though he made the Pro Bowl this season, I think he actually had one of his worst years as a player. Evans had the second-highest cap hit on the team at $11 million.
2.) Ben Grubbs
Ditto for Grubbs in regards to the struggles along the Saints interior offensive line. I put Grubbs ahead of Evans because this has been a two-year trend for him. He was third on the Saints with a $9.1 million cap hit.
1.) Jairus Byrd
I know it's unfair. Byrd missed most of the season with an injury, but before that his impact was minimal. I'm not at all ready to say Byrd will be a bust, but for the 2014 season he was the Saints most overpaid player. His cap hit was only $3.5 million, but when combining his base salary and signing bonus, he was actually paid $12.3 million this year.?