Below are five key players who may not return to the New Orleans Saints in 2017:

1)---Jahri Evans---Many, including myself, thought the Saints’ offensive line was going to be a big negative for them this season. And while it certainly wasn’t elite, the line played way better than anticipated, and Evans had a lot to do with that. A 6-time Pro Bowler with the Saints from 2009-2014, many thought that Evans’ career was all but done after the Seattle Seahawks released him in early September. Named to the Saints’ All-50th Team in 2016, Evans started every game at right guard, and helped the team to a number of offensive exploits, including having Drew Brees pass for 5,000 yards for the fifth time is his career, and having Mark Ingram become the franchise’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006. All of the offensive line issues that many expected the Saints to have, and made worse by Terron Armstead playing in only 7 games, were helped eases, thanks to the surprising play of Evans, who turned back the clock a few years. Evans is 33-years old, and it's uncertain if he'll even play a 12th season in the NFL. If he does, he may cash in on how ell he played this year elsewhere. The Saints would probably also like to add some youth at guard.

2)---Nick Fairley--He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Saints during the offseason, and boy, did that ever work out for the team! After totaling only 26 tackles and 1.5 sacks from 2014-2015, combined, with the Lions and Rams, Fairley, in this year alone, accumulated 29 tackles, to go along with 6.5 sacks. He probably made himself a lot of money for 2017, money that the Saints may spend in other areas. He safe would it be to sign Fairley to a multi-year deal anyway? Again, he had down years in both 2014 and 2015, so signing him for big dollars over multiple years would be risky.

3)---Zach Strief---Strief is similar to Evans, in that he played way better than expected, and therefore helped the entire offensive line to play way better than expected. I think the Saints would be better off leaving Andrus Peat at guard, and bring back Strief, along with his $5.1 million salary next year, but they may want to put Peat at right tackle, a move that has long been envisioned, and get younger on the offensive front.

4)---Dannell Ellerbe---It's very simple; when Ellerbe is on the field the Saints are a better football team. The problem is that Ellerbe has had problems staying healthy. In two seasons in New Orleans, he's only played in 15 games, including only 9 this past season. To go even farther, over the past three seasons, of a possible 48 games, Ellerbe suited up for only 16. He's good, when he's playing, but the Saints may elect to cut ties with him, and go with somebody that they feel they can rely on a little more.

5)---Sterling Moore--He started 12 games in 2016, but that was not by design. The Saints had major injury issues at the cornerback position this year, and had no choice but to have Moore back there most of the year. Delvin Breaux missed 10 games, and P.J. Williams missed 14, while Kyle Wilson and Damian Swann missed the entire season. Moore played well, considering, but he's not a long term answer, and would have would likely have to come back at a cheap price, as he did in 2016, to return.