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New Orleans Saints foresee productive, healthy Chase Young post-surgery

'He's a young player still with a lot of desire'


Orlando – The New Orleans Saints expect an even better version of defensive end Chase Young once the former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year recovers from surgery for a neck injury that plagued him even last season, when he tied his career high with 7.5 sacks in a season that was split between Washington (seven games) and San Francisco (nine games).

"I think he played pretty well last year, too," Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis said Monday, from the NFL owners meetings.

Loomis said New Orleans was aware of Young's medical status and remained optimistic regarding a full recovery that will lead to Young, who was an unrestricted free agency who'd produced 16.5 career sacks in four seasons (43 games, with 32 starts), having a productive season with the Saints.

"We did all the due diligence, we were aware that he was going to need some work and we're optimistic about that," Loomis said. "He had a great first season (7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 12 quarterback hits and 10 tackles for loss in 2021) and then he's had some injuries to deal with, (but) he's a young player still with a lot of desire. I'm excited to have him. We're excited to have him.

"I think we're excited about that (pass rushing) group. We've got a good mix of veterans and young players and guys that we have high expectations for. What's really exciting is that we have guys that have high expectations for themselves."

Loomis reiterated his statement from the NFL Combine that the Saints actively are working to secure a cleaner salary cap. That cleanup likely will coincide with the franchise not being as active in free agency as past years.

"Yes, absolutely. I think we're in that mode right now, we've got to recover from some of the things that happened with Covid and the contracts that we did in the past and so, not as active in free agency maybe as you'd like to be at times," he said. "And look, I think we're going to be in that mode for another year or so.

"Part of that depends on how we perform, how players perform, how our team performs, what the cap is. There's a lot of variables that go with that."

PUSH AT LB: Loomis said he expects linebacker Willie Gay, another unrestricted free agent signee, to push for playing time. Gay helped Kansas City win the last two Super Bowls, starting 28 of 29 regular-season games and all six playoff games he played in the last two years. "He's going to be competing, he's going to have the opportunity to play a lot of downs for us, particularly with Zack Baun moving on to another team. We had a need there. We've got a group of guys that we like, led by Demario (Davis). I would say that was a good addition."

STILL LOOKING: Even though New Orleans can't be as active in free agency as past years, Loomis said the team still is exploring every avenue for improvement. "We've got the musts, wants and needs and we've got some of it taken care of. There's still free agency going on, we've got an opportunity during this draft to add some players, and then there's always the trade route. We'll leave no stone unturned."

NO MORE HIP-DROP: Owners on Monday approved a rule to ban the swivel hip-drop tackle, which Loomis agreed with. "I think it was necessary. We understand the play, understand how devastating it can be in terms of injury. So I understand why we need to get it out of the game."

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