The 2017 season is almost halfway over, and our Saints are looking like they've finally put the pieces together and are poised for another playoff run. With that in mind, I'm of the opinion that it's never too early to start looking at pieces that can turn a 2017 playoff team into a 2018 Super Bowl team, or if we're really wishfully thinking, turn a 2017 Super Bowl team into a 2018 repeating Super Bowl champion. So, let's have a little fun and look ahead to a very good 2018 Free Agent class.
Quarterback will be a very interesting spot for the Saints heading into 2018. Drew Brees will be a free agent, without a doubt. Brees and his agent worked a clause in his last contract that will not allow the Saints to franchise tag him. It's my belief that if Brees wants to play more football in New Orleans, the Saints will have him, but it's always good to at least be familiar with the other options in case it comes to that.
Fortunately, this is the best free agent QB class we've possibly ever seen with guys like Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and the man himself, Drew Brees. I fully expect the Saints to do their due diligence on this entire group, just in case anything weird happens. I would not be mad to see Kirk Cousins in a Saints uniform next year playing on a long-term deal. If memory serves me right, the last time the Saints signed a free agent QB, it worked out quite alright. I'm also a big Teddy Bridgewater fan, and with him coming off of a bad knee Injury, we might could see him sign on as backup to Drew for a year with a chance to compete for the starting job in 2019 and beyond.
The rest of the 2018 FA class holds up pretty well to this great QB class. Headlining the 2018 class are guys like: Ezekiel Ansah, Trumaine Johnson, Sammy Watkins, Tyler Eifert, Jarvis Landry, and our darling (and already honorary New Orleans Saint), Malcolm Butler.
Of the above group, I would certainly expect the Saints to court Butler the most. I imagine they'll at least kick the tires on guys like Johnson and Ansah. They'll still be looking to upgrade the defense, although it's likely they'll be focused on the linebacker position, and none of the guys mentioned above play that position. Butler seems like the natural fit and most likely of everyone I've mentioned, if for no other reason than what went on in this past offseason.
We all heard the Butler to Saints rumors and that he was elated to be headed to the Big Easy. It's hard for me to imagine BB franchising a cornerback after paying Stephone Gilmore the money most people assumed was going to be Butlers money. As of 10/27/17, I'm saying Malcolm Butler will be the Saints’ ‘Big Fish’ for 2018 Free Agency.
As far as the offensive side of the ball goes, I think that's anyone's guess. Right now, a lot of that will depend on how much they value Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman, and Coby Fleener at season’s end. If they're looking to upgrade, it's very possible to do so in this 2018 class. With guys like Jarvis Landry, Alshon Jeffrey, and Tyler Eifert, I'm sure it'll take an army to keep Sean Payton from spending every last dime on the offensive side of the ball. Either way, it should be fun to watch the Saints work in the offseason again as it front office and scouting team has pleasantly surprised the last couple years with a lot more hits than misses in both free agency and the draft.