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Free-agent spotlight: LB Ramon Humber

The New Orleans Saints have eight remaining players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 10, plus three restricted free agents. Here’s a breakdown on linebacker Ramon Humber:

Age: 27

Experience: Heading into 7th season

Height: 5-11

Weight: 232

Outlook: It’s hard to believe Humber is still just 27 years old since it seems like he’s been around forever as a backup linebacker and core special-teams player. (It’s actually been four and a half seasons in New Orleans -- plus a year and a half with the Indianapolis Colts before that).

I’m guessing the Saints will bring back Humber on another minimal one-year deal since they’ve valued his versatility for so long. His greatest value is on special teams, where he was elected a captain for the first time last year. Humber has also started a total of 13 games with the Saints (including the playoffs) at both inside and outside linebacker in both 4-3 and 3-4 alignments.

The Saints used Humber on defense more than ever last year -- often as an extra run defender when they were in 3-4 alignments. He finished with a career-high six starts and a career-high 50 tackles (including 12, plus a sack in overtime during a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 10).

However, Pro Football Focus gave Humber the worst grade among all 4-3 outside linebackers in the NFL last year, thanks in part to a poor pass-coverage grade and eight missed tackles. His low point came in Week 4 at Dallas when it seemed like no one on the Saints could corral running back DeMarco Murray.

Humber is a physical tackler for his size, and he’s better as a run defender than he is in pass coverage. In that sense, he’s a lot like fellow Saints veterans Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Parys Haralson. The Saints definitely need to add some young, athletic linebackers who can cover more ground to that mix.