The New Orleans Saints invested heavily in their 2017 season and beyond, and arguably made major improvements through the NFL Draft. While much of the focus remains on the ‘win-now’ mentality in a crucial year for Sean Payton and Drew Brees, it did start turning the gears to think about the future of this team.
For fun, here’s a few predictions that could shape up over the next five years.
The Saints will become a defensive team. Yes, this is probably the funniest thing you’ll ever hear me say, but hear me out. Last season, the Saints gained several key pieces in the draft for Dennis Allen’s defense, and they’ve arguably been rebuilding slowly but surely. Defensive tackles Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata paired with safety Vonn Bell were some of the big pieces gained last season, and this year they added safety Marcus Williams, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Al-Quadin Muhammad. Players like linebackers Alex Anzalone and Travis Feeney, cornerbacks P.J. Williams, Damian Swann, De’Vante Harris, and Ken Crawley still have some proving to do. However, there’s a good young nucleus the Saints are starting to build on the defensive side, and new positional coaches Mike Nolan (linebacker) and Ryan Nielsen (defensive line) could play a big part in making the defense respectable.
Ryan Ramczyk will become the starting right tackle, as early as 2017. The Saints were not silly when they used their 32nd overall pick on the Wisconsin offensive tackle. Sure, a best player available scenario made some fans cringe at the pick, but understand the Saints got what many believe was the best OT prospect in the draft. It was a position of need too, as the Saints have an aging, but effective Zach Strief on their hands. Plus, they still needed a reserve tackle and swing tackle for their Jumbo sets. Strief has only welcomed competition, and that someone would physically have to beat him out for the job. Ramczyk very well could show that this season.
Michael Thomas becomes one of the league’s Top 5 receivers. Thomas made tremendous strides in his rookie season to finish 9th in receiving for 2016, and with Brandin Cooks out of the limelight, it’s his show. Sure, the Saints have other receivers on the team that will get solid production, but Thomas looks to have a giant breakout season. The gap between Thomas and Antonio Brown, who finished 5th, was only 147 yards. Both respectively missed one game last year. Thomas’ year over year maturation will pay huge dividends for the offense.
Drew Brees, Sean Payton stay paired together for the next four seasons. The biggest question around the future of the Saints is whether or not Brees and Payton stay together, and I say yes. Brees has showed no signs of slowing down, and it feels as though Sean Payton has some of that coaching swagger back after cleaning house with some long-standing assistants. This is a crucial season for the black and gold, as missing the playoffs could spell the exits for both of these franchise staples, but I say the Saints will get back into the playoffs, Brees signs an extension to keep him as the team’s starting quarterback until he turns 42, and Payton rides out his five-year extension from a year ago through 2020.
The Saints will never flirt with leaving New Orleans, and keep improving the Dome. The NFL has seen seen several franchises relocate, most recently the Chargers and Raiders. Unfortunately, their former markets have no choice but to deal with it, and that’s a shame. The Saints should never move, even if ownership looks different in the next five years, mainly because their fan base loves this team and a real personal connection to the franchise. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome has been through a lot, respectfully. Massive renovations have been made to the Superdome, as it’s played host to many events. They should keep improvements up, and it should still continue to be one of the best venues in all of sports.
Which prediction would you feel most confident in for the Saints?
This poll is closed
The Saints become a defensive team.
Ramczyk becomes the starting RT.
Thomas becomes a Top 5 wide receiver.
Brees, Payton stay together for next four years.
Saints stay put, won’t even think about leaving.