After collecting some of your Saints questions from late last week, it’s time to tackle the best ones in this week’s mailbag. I’d like to thank everyone for the submissions, and obviously encourage you to keep sending them our way on social media.
@JohnJHendrix CB or Pass Rusher in the 2017 first round draft?— ⚜ Geaux Saints ⚜ (@geauxsaintsBR) December 16, 2016
Going off the current state of the 2017 roster, it’d be safe to say a pass rusher will be a more pressing need for the Saints. The team will presumably get back P.J. Williams, Damian Swann, and Jimmy Pruitt. They could also re-sign Sterling Moore and Kyle Wilson for cheap, and have RFA rights on B.W. Webb. Needless to say, they have more promise in the secondary versus a glaring need for a premiere pass rusher opposite of Cameron Jordan.
@JohnJHendrix who should the saints big ticket free agents be this year?— saintsfan (@jrmaher01) December 16, 2016
I’m not a fan of bringing in costly free agents for next season, as I’d like to see the Saints go for more of the value signings like they did last season. In-house priority would side with Nick Fairley, who is going to make some big money in the offseason, and the team will need help at a lot of positions. If anyone, I’d look at someone like offensive guard Ronald Leary. He’s earned a bigger paycheck after stepping back in for Dallas, and the Saints will need to invest in one or two offensive linemen in the offseason.
@JohnJHendrix So Greg M gets the ax, do the Saints elevate a current ST coordinator or do they go outside the organization? If so, who?— Glenn Savoy (@gsavoy87) December 16, 2016
It’s hard to believe that Greg McMahon goes anywhere given the ties to Sean Payton, but let’s give some credit where is due with the Kevin O’Dea addition. Since he’s been brought on, Wil Lutz has been fairly flawless. Having stability at kicker is a Godsend for the Saints, but this team still has heavy issues with kickoff returns and coverage. One prime candidate, Bobby April, is off the market, so spotting an immediate replacement for McMahon is hard to say right now.
@JohnJHendrix How awesome is the Saints' future looking? Biggest FA target needs? How long will we sign fairley for?— Mitch Pabst (@mitch2388) December 16, 2016
I talked about what Fairley’s worth will look like previously, and someone will pay him if the Saints don’t want to go there. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more optimism for 2017 for the team because they’ll have money to spend in free agency, and it’s likely the last shot for the Payton-Loomis-Brees regime to do something. As far as biggest free agency needs, I’d say a pass rusher, linebacker, and offensive line would be the areas to address in free agency.
Roy A - Kinda long but Payton seems to telegraph plays to opposing defenses in like an I dare you to try to stop this way and increasingly they are stopping us. Is it just me seeing this?
Thankfully, the game against the Cardinals was more reminiscent of what Payton’s abilities as a play caller is like. There have been many times the Saints have been predictable on offense. What got me was when the Saints would continually pass on 3rd and short situations. Are we saying that Mark Ingram or Tim Hightower can’t get a yard or two? Is the offensive line just not dominant enough to get the push? It just brings up more questions than answers. Also, what is the thought process coming out of halftime with the ball and going with three straight passes? I know Payton is a very strong offensive-minded genius at times, but teams can certainly catch on faster.
Mark S - Given the staff's inability to prepare all the positions properly (specifically linebackers and defensive backs), can we expect a shake up? Since SP took over, the defense hasn't generated much rookie development. When there's success it's short lived, the athletes leave or experience injuries. Has the staff really looked at itself?
I’ll disagree with the defensive backs. I don’t think Aaron Glenn is getting enough credit for what he’s been able to do with the secondary this season, especially with cookie-cutter players, so to speak. To your point, there’s been a certain amount of beef fans have had with coaches like Joe Vitt, Bill Johnson, and Greg McMahon. To whiff out on so many drafts isn’t just a fault of the scouting department, it’s also on those guys. I don’t see any changes going there with the ties to Payton, but my whole point would be to bring in younger coaches who can relate better to the players and the actual evolution of the game.
Oscar G - Is 2017 make or break for coaching and front office?
Yes. It’s the last chance for them to do something in this particular regime. It’s going to be deep playoffs or bust. As much as Sean Payton has done for the franchise, it is safe to say he’ll get pass on 2016 for whatever reason.
Patrick G - WTF? That's my only question.
The season has been frustrating for many. I mean, you go 4-0 against the NFC West - which was once thought as the toughest division in football. You only go 1-3 against the AFC West, but were in those until the very end. You take a dump two weeks in a row with a missing in action offense against the Lions and Bucs, and now you don’t control your own destiny. Starting in the hole screws this team up so bad, and they can’t overcome.
Jeff M - Has Sean Payton lost his touch? Does Brees have one more run on him? Can the defense put it together in 2017? Do you fire Payton and Loomis if fail to make playoff in 2017?
It’s clearly a concern seeing the Saints turn in another lackluster season with more player changes and such. In a nutshell, you might look at it like this: 2015 was the official start of the rebuild, 2016 was making due with what they had and shaving off the dead money, and 2017 is the last hoorah. I feel much better about the defense given what they’ve been able to do without so many starters. I’d say Payton goes before Loomis, because Loomis has been around the franchise since 2000.
Sam G - Do you think DeMarcus Walker from FSU would be a good draft pick? We might have to trade up...
Walker reminds many of Cam Jordan with his physical stature and play, and he’s not necessarily in the Top 5 conversation for defensive ends. I’ve seen projections for him in the later part of the first round or second round. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where he goes, because let’s face it, the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine have accelerated some prospects draft stock over the years. At this point, your guess is as good as mine as to where he falls. However, he would be a good draft pick and address a glaring need the Saints have.
Baron K - Any chance they take a shot at landing Stafford as a FA in 2018?
Never say never, I guess is the response you are looking for. Personally, I’d have a hard time believing the Lions would let their franchise quarterback go elsewhere. He’d be 30 by the time he’d presumably hit free agency in 2018. There are a lot of variables here, as we aren’t particularly certain what the future holds for Drew Brees and Sean Payton. They don’t have a successor plan readily available for Brees, and if they’d want to stay a competitor, then I would say Matthew Stafford would be a viable option.
Editor’s Note: We’d love to conduct an online live chat setting for Saints questions in which our staff answers your questions. Please let us know your thoughts for the community event so that we can plan accordingly.