Free-agent spotlight: Defensive backups

The New Orleans Saints have 13 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 11, plus the three players they released last month. Here's a breakdown of their defensive reserves:

LB Will Herring: Age 30. Height/weight: 6-3, 241.

Scouting report: Herring has spent the last three years in New Orleans as a core special teams player and backup linebacker. He was named a special teams captain last year and played more special teams snaps than anyone on the team (81.9 percent). He has never earned consistent playing time on defense during his time with the Saints, though, making a total of three starts with a total of 35 tackles, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Herring spent his first four seasons in Seattle.

Projection: The Saints could bring back Herring in a similar role, since he's been such a valued special teams leader and would probably come at an affordable rate. However, it's possible they could look to get younger at those positions.

LB Ramon Humber: Age 26. Height/weight: 5-11, 232.

Scouting report: Humber's bio is almost an exact replica of Herring's. He has spent the past four years in New Orleans as a backup linebacker and core special teams player. He played the second-most snaps on special teams last year (74.3 percent). And he has made six “spot starts” over the past four years, with a total of 63 tackles, 1.5 sacks and no forced turnovers. He had a career-high 29 tackles last year while starting three games for the Saints. Humber began his career with Indianapolis for a season and a half.

Projection: Humber is even more likely to re-sign with the Saints or find work elsewhere. He looked very solid in his cameo appearances on defense last year – especially as a run defender. Plus, he's still young without too much wear on the tires.

S Jordan Pugh: Age 26. Height/weight: 5-11, 210.

Pugh played in only one game with the Saints last year. They signed him just before their season-ending playoff loss at Seattle to add some special teams help. But he had plenty of NFL experience before that as a solid backup and special teamer with the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins for four years. I could see the Saints inviting him to camp this summer to compete for a similar role.

DE Kenyon Coleman: Age 34. Height/weight: 6-5, 293.

Coleman plans to retire after missing all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle.