What will happen to the Saints free agents?

Advocate file photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins Show caption
Advocate file photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Saints free safety Malcolm Jenkins

What will happen to the Saints free agents? Here’s our best guess.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (15)

These players can sign with any team with no compensation due the Saints.

CHARLES BROWN

Position: Tackle

Experience: 4

Age: 26

Summary: Led the offensive line in penalties, sacks and pressures allowed before being benched at halftime in Week 15, giving way to rookie Terron Armstead. After a rough starting debut, Armstead showed he could be the future at left tackle — a key position.

Will he be back? NO

KENYON COLEMAN

Position: Defensive end

Experience: 12

Age: 34

Summary: Missed the entire season after tearing a pectoral muscle in training camp. He wasn’t missed much after starter Cameron Jordan recorded 121/2 sacks and earned his first Pro Bowl bid. Second-year pro Akiem Hicks filled in and had 41/2 sacks.

Will he be back? Maybe

KEYUNTA DAWSON

Position: Outside linebacker

Experience: 6

Age: 28

Summary: Used mainly on special teams, he was instrumental on defense in a close win at Atlanta on Nov. 21, recording half a sack and forcing a key fumble. However, he missed six of the last seven games with a calf injury.

Will he be back? Maybe

BRIAN DE LA PUENTE

Position: Center

Experience: 4

Age 28

Summary: The three-year starter deserves a share of the credit for a running game that improved throughout the course of the second half of the season, holding his own while flanked by Pro Bowl guards Ben Grubbs and Jahri Evans.

Will he be back? Yes

JIMMY GRAHAM

Position: Tight end

Experience: 4

Age 27

Summary: Led the NFL with 16 TD catches and the Saints with 86 receptions and 1,215 receiving yards. He produced despite playing through a foot injury in the second half of the season, even when defenses schemed to limit him.

Will he be back? Yes

SHAYNE GRAHAM

Position: Kicker

Experience: 13

Age 36

Summary: After replacing Garrett Hartley, Graham made his first six kicks — including four in the wild-card win at Philadelphia. He missed twice in the divisional playoff loss at Seattle, but both were into a stiff wind in inclement weather.

Will he be back? Maybe

PARYS HARALSON

Position: Outside linebacker

Experience: 8

Age 29

Summary: Was worth the late-round draft pick the Saints traded to to acquire him. Starting in nine games, he finished fourth on the team with 31/2 sacks and tallied 30 tackles before tearing a pectoral muscle in their wildcard win.

Will he be back? Maybe

WILL HERRING

Position: Outside linebacker

Experience: 6

Age 30

Summary: The Saints special teams captain finished second with 11 tackles and forced a fumble, and he intercepted a pass in a Week 4 win vs. Miami. In 2012, he tied for second with 14 special teams tackles.

Will he be back? Maybe

RAMON HUMBER

Position: Inside linebacker

Experience: 5

Age: 26

Summary: He tied for third in tackles on special teams and recovered onside kicks in back-to-back weeks in December. He has also capably filled in on defense in some of the team’s specialty packages since joining the Saints in 2010.

Will he be back? Maybe

MALCOLM JENKINS

Position: Free safety

Experience: 5

Age: 26

Summary: Defensive captain ranked among the team’s leaders in tackles, pass breakups and interceptions, and he had 21/2 sacks. He was part of a defense that allowed just 20 TD passes in 16 games and ranked second in the league against the pass.

Will he be back? Yes

LUKE McCOWN

Position:

Quarterback

Experience: 10

Age: 32

Summary: In his first season as Drew Brees’ backup, this veteran’s main contribution was holding for extra points and field goals after winning the No. 2 job with some solid performances in training camp and the preseason.

Will he be back? Maybe

ROBERT MEACHEM

Position: Wide receiver

Experience: 7

Age: 29

Summary: He had only 16 receptions but led the Saints with 20.3 yards per catch and had a pair of touchdowns. A big receiver, he’s valued for his ability to block down the field — which he spent lots of time doing this season.

Will he be back? Yes

JORDAN PUGH

Position: Safety

Experience: 4

Age: 25

Summary: He was brought in after the Saints waived safety Isa Abdul-Quddus following the wild-card round but was inactive for the divisional playoff game at Seattle.

Will he be back? No

ZACH STRIEF

Position: Tackle

Experience: 8

Age: 30

Summary: The three-year starter and one of the team’s offensive captains had a solid season and was one of the most consistent players on the offensive line at right tackle. He has started 38 games since being inserted into the lineup in 2011.

Will he be back? Yes

JONATHAN VILMA

Position: Inside linebacker

Experience: 10

Age: 31

Summary: Former defensive captain played in just one game in 2013 season after knee surgery in August — the latest in a series of knee procedures. He’ll be 32 in April, and he missed 20 games since 2011 because of knee issues.

Will he be back? No

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (4)

These players can receive offers from other teams, but Saints can match if they tender an offer.

RAFAEL BUSH

Position: Safety

Experience: 3

Age: 26

Summary: He handled an increased workload well early in the season when Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper were injured. If the team is unable to retain Jenkins, Bush could be the heir apparent to the starting job at free safety.

Will he be back? Yes

JED COLLINS

Position: Fullback

Experience: 3

Age: 27

Summary: Former practice squad player can be relied upon to pick up tough short-yardage first downs, and he does well catching screens. He was an effective blocker in both the running game and pass protection in the second half of the season.

Will he be back? Yes

TOM JOHNSON

Position: Defensive end

Experience: 3

Age: 29

Summary: A former CFL player, he had two sacks and 18 tackles this season while providing depth along an improved defensive line. There could be an upgrade out there, but at least he contributed as part of the rotation.

Will he be back? Maybe

JOE MORGAN

Position: Wide receiver

Experience: 3

Age: 25

Summary: While the Saints didn’t miss him too much because of rookie Kenny Stills and Meachem, neither was the long-ball threat Morgan was in 2012. He suffered a knee injury in preseason but hopes to be back in May.

Will he be back? Yes

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS (2)

These players may only re-sign with the Saints if tendered a contract.

BRYCE HARRIS

Position: Tackle

Experience: 2

Age: 25

Summary: Has been a capable backup for the past two seasons and this season added the duties of being tackle-eligible on a lot of short-yardage running plays — lining up as an extra tight end for blocking purposes.

Will he be back? Yes

TREVIN WADE

Position: Cornerback

Experience: 2

Age: 24

Summary: Was inactive for four games after being signed in November when Jabari Greer was lost for the season, but was pressed into action for some defensive snaps in the final two regular-season games.

ill he be back? Maybe

KEY OFFSEASON DATES

Feb. 17: First day for clubs to designate franchise or transition players.

Feb. 19-25: NFL scouting combine.

March 3: Deadline to designate franchise or transition players.

March 8: At 3 p.m. CST, clubs can begin negotiating with representatives of players who are set to become free agents.

March 11: Free-agency signing period begins at 3 p.m. CST.

April 7: Clubs that hired a new head coach may begin offseason workout programs.

April 21: Teams with returning coaches may begin offseason workout programs.

May 8-10: NFL draft.

July 15: Deadline to sign a franchise player to a multiyear contract or extension.

After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2014 season.