To me, there are four things that the Saints need to get done in the short term that are of utmost importance to the team. They are:
Sign Drew Brees to a long term extension
Re-sign Lance Moore
Re-sign Roman Harper
Sign Carl Nicks to a long term extension
Which of these is most important?Sure, we hope to have Jonathan Goodwin and Heath Evans back (as well as many other guys who were on the roster last year and have expired contracts). Sure, we'd like to sign a top flight free agent. Sure, re-structuring Reggie Bush is on the agenda. There are a number of things the front office will have to tackle (pardon the pun) in a short amount of time. The four things I listed above, though, affect the short term, medium term and possibly the long term success of the team.
We could argue that Drew Brees' new contract is of least immediate importance. Before you all freak out on me, remember that Brees' contract isn't going to be finalized until Peyton Manning has his deal done. The Saints camp, and Brees' people for that matter, are waiting to see what kind of deal Manning gets before they decide what Drew's value is set at. Brees is still under contract for a season, too, so while the Saints want the security of this deal getting done much sooner than later, they're not at immediate risk of Brees going anywhere.
You could also argue that re-signing Nicks is not an immediate necessity either. He's a restricted free agent, which means the Saints can give him the highest tender for a 1-year contract and push back re-signing him to a long term extension for another year. If the Saints tender Nicks at the highest amount (which I believe they already have?), no team is going to go after him and risk losing a 1st and 3rd round pick. They're totally safe there for now, but they also want Nicks locked up long term.
Then you've got Lance Moore and Roman Harper. Which player is most important for the Saints to retain? They are unrestricted free agents once this lockout ends, they are free to solicit offers from any and all teams and they're free to sign with anyone with no compensation headed to the Saints. I wouldn't be the least surprised to see a team throw some stupid money at these guys. Ditto with Jermon Bushrod by the way. There's a very real chance that they could play for other teams in 2011. All signs point to the Saints wanting to keep them, and them wanting to stay, but there are zero guarantees in a wide open market.
Again I ask you: what is the Saints number one off-season priority? And yes, in a perfect world there is no doubt we'd all love for all of these things to happen in short order.