With the offseason wrapping up and training camps underway, ESPN published a piece (Insider required) where anonymous NFL executives graded all 32 teams’ offseasons. The New Orleans Saints received high marks - with a B-minus - primarily by their work in the 2017 NFL Draft:
The offseason plan for the Saints was clear: Improve the defense. Trading top deep threat Brandin Cooks to New England for the 32nd overall choice seemed like a big part of that plan. In the end, however, the Saints used that pick for right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. That move was easier to justify after cornerback Marshon Lattimore fell to New Orleans at No. 11 (four of five league insiders polled before the draft had Lattimore going in the top 10). "I kind of like what they did," an exec said. "They got a guard and a tackle, they got a corner and then losing Cooks to New England is not that big of a deal because they have Michael Thomas and they kind of play with anybody at receiver."
It’s hard to fault the logic there. The Saints were widely believed to have been one of the winners of the 2017 NFL Draft, carried in large part by rookie CB Marshon Lattimore. What they did on defense and in free agency was not nearly as encouraging for these NFL execs:
"I don't know how much better they got," another exec said. "It seems like every couple years, New Orleans realizes their defense needs to get better and they sign Jairus Byrd or they sign Paul Kruger or they sign Junior Galette. It feels like we have been through this before and that will be interesting to see how that goes."
While Junior Galette had his off-the-field troubles, it seems almost blasphemous to put him in the same breath as Jairus Byrd and Paul Kruger. Galette was an undrafted free agent that signed with the Saints to little fanfare and had a couple of incredible years. Byrd and Kruger admittedly were busts in free agency (to varying degrees based on the disparity of dollars and years committed to each player), but to liken their signings with that of Junior Galette seems unfair. Oh well.
Across the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were given an A- grade, with the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons with a C and C+ respectively.