The 2011 NFL draft is finally over and the lockout is still in full swing. And now that the draft is over, Saints fans can start to examine what needs are more pressing and which ones just need a little depth. So I decided to take a quick look at the offense to try and determine which positions the Saints need to tackle first, which just need to resign some people and which ones are just fine as they are...as soon as the labor issues come to a close.
Read on for a position by position breakdown.
Need: Veteran backup
Why: Obviously, starting QB is covered. However, the Saints still have Chase Daniel as his backup. I don't think that really comforts anyone if anything happens to Brees. It would be nice to have a veteran like Mark Bulger to step in, or at the minimum, carry a clipboard with confidence. But it's safe to say that this is probably nothing more than a luxury pick up.
Need: Sign contracts
Why: Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Chris Ivory are, more than likely, all going to be on the Saints roster come September or October. At this point, it's just a matter of negotiating Bush, Ingram and Ivory's contracts. All four of those running backs will be plenty of depth.
Why: Heath Evans will likely not be on the opening day roster. As Dave wondered, he was very open about the Saints organization's work habits and even came clean about Brees' knee injury heard round the world. Which is good for both parties, as Evans' play has been declining. The weird thing about the position is that David Thomas can be a good fullback - if he plays as one. The Saints are in dire need of a tight end or two, and if Thomas is playing fullback as well, the Saints have to sign another tight end, which are more expensive and are harder to find in both blocking and receiving skills. Until the Saints make a decision, I'm considering both as needs.
Need: Re-sign players; would be nice to have a great WR
Why: Lance Moore is a guy I'd want to see the Saints re-sign. He's probably mediocre on other teams, but as a Saint, he's Brees' go-to guy. Arrington is a free agent...again. I've never been an AA lover, so I have no real preference here. This is probably the most luxury pick of them all, but it would be nice if the Saints had a receiver that was great/elite. Nothing against Colston, he's probably be the #1 slot receiver in the NFL. However, as a #1 starter, he's always ranked in the 10-20th region. Never horrible, never outstanding. To have a #1 receiver like Andre Johnson, who's done such things as this, would make the Saints offense more deadly.
Need: Long term starter; depth
Why: Raise your hand if you love Jermon Bushrod as the guy protecting Drew's blind side. I'm assuming none of you raised your hand (unless a Falcon fan is reading this) and you know why. Don't get me wrong, Bushrod has been a great value for a 4th round pick and is a solid backup and decent starter. On a pass-first team like the Saints, however, you need a stud tackle. Not only that, Bushrod is a free agent! He may not even get signed again, which would thrust the job of protecting the Saints main asset, Drew Brees, onto Charles Brown, a 2010 2nd round pick. The Saints have to sign someone here.
In case you think I forgot, Jon Stinchcomb had a bit of a decline from 2009 to 2010. He went from Pro Bowl tackle to turnstile. He may or may not have another year left, (although if he had surgery, that may lean towards the latter) and the Saints are already in need of help on the offensive line. Something must be done about the tackle position in free agency.
Why: Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks need someone to sit on the bench and watch how awesome they are.
Need: Depth; re-sign Goodwin
Why: Goodwin has been a consistent player on the Saints line. He's never on ESPN but that's the kind of guy you want on the O-line. The only main issue is that he's 32 years old. So if the Saints do sign him, it would be more likely be a one or two year contract.
Some may advocate to let Goodwin go and let Matt Tennant have his day but center is the most unsexy position in the NFL. You never get credit if everything goes right and you get all the blame when something goes wrong. Ever see a great center to QB exchange on ESPN? Didn't think so. What about a botched snap? Exactly. A reliable center that has a connection with his quarterback is harder to find than some realize. I'd prefer the Saints re-sign Goodwin and let Tennant have another year to learn behind a good center.
So those are my thoughts on the Saints offensive needs. What do you guys think? Prefer a new starter at a position? Don't like one of my thoughts? Let's talk about it.