Former Saints pass rusher Trey Hendrickson extends NFL-leading sacks streak to 8 games with Bengals
The New Orleans Saints aren’t missing many players they lost this offseason more than Trey Hendrickson. The veteran pass rusher has been sensational with the Cincinnati Bengals, bagging at least one sack in each of his last eight games — a franchise record for Cincinnati and the longest active streak in the NFL. Hendrickson is now up to 11.5 sacks on the season, a year removed from his 13.5-sack campaign with the Saints in 2020.
It was easy to write off Hendrickson as a one-year wonder in free agency. He had created just 6.5 sacks in his first three years with the Saints put together, and benefited from the heavy attention opponents gave to slowing down Cameron Jordan on the other side of New Orleans’ defensive line. But credit where it’s due: Hendrickson is playing the best football of his career right now. He’s put in a lot of work and now he’s reaping the benefits while running point for Cincinnati.
Brandon Thorn is one of the best evaluators of line play around, publishing regular updates to his charting of every sack by every player each week, year over year. Last season Hendrickson finished with a middling sacks score, crediting most of his sacks to time bought by the coverage, cleanup of pressure created by a teammate, or otherwise low quality reps by the offense. Midway through this season, Hendrickson cracked Thorn’s top five defensive linemen across the league with nearly as many high quality sacks as low quality takedowns, with little help from the secondary or his teammates up front.
Good for him. It’s a shame that the Saints weren’t able to re-sign Hendrickson to a contract extension, but that’s going to happen when the salary cap is $28 million beneath where it was supposed to be. Financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic led the league to depress this year’s cap, stunting the growth that the Saints and other teams had been planning to take advantage of in recent years. That meant they couldn’t sign everyone, and good players like Hendrickson walked away.
But he’ll be back soon. The Bengals are scheduled to visit New Orleans in 2022 for a game at the Caesars Superdome, and the Saints will need to be ready for him and other familiar faces on that roster like Vonn Bell and Eli Apple, and a couple of guys who found success in college up the road at LSU in Joe Burow and Ja’Marr Chase.
Before that game is even scheduled, though, the Saints are projected to receive a fourth-round compensatory pick in the 2022 NFL draft for losing Hendrickson in free agency earlier this year. Hopefully his sky-high level of play helps bump that up to a more-valuable third rounder, but we won’t get an answer on that front for a few more months. For now, let’s just cheer on Hendrickson from afar.
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