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Saints come in at 25th on ESPN’s Future Power Rankings

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In thinking beyond the 2017 season, are the Saints a team that’s built to last? Or, are they one that’s just trying to scrape together whatever will make them a contender one season at a time?

Detroit Lions v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

While we mostly live in the ‘now’ for New Orleans Saints football, there’s plenty of reasons to look forward to the future. On Monday morning, ESPN did just that by taking a look at each team and the state of their sustained success over the next three seasons. The panel consisted of Louis Riddick, Mike Sando, and Field Yates.

The Saints found themselves handed a 71.83 on the grading scale, which translates to a C grade (or average by their standards). For perspective on this, the Patriots (1st) were given a grade of 90.12, while the Browns (32nd) came in at 59.92 overall. Per the article, which requires ESPN Insider Access to view, notes that there were five key categories used to comprise the score.

  • Roster (30 percent) *Excludes quarterback
  • Quarterback (20 percent)
  • Draft (15 percent)
  • Front Office (15 percent)
  • Coaching (20 percent)

Here’s how the Saints fared on the grading scale, with their respective ranks.

Saints Future Power Rankings
ESPN

Here’s what the three analysts (Yates, Riddick, and Sando) had to say:

Why they're here: Part of this is that Drew Brees is currently entering the final season of his deal, but there are roster holes that drag New Orleans further down. One of the issues facing New Orleans is that it has constantly been tight against the cap. There is always maneuvering that can be done to create cap space, but it limits your margin for error when you have limited cap resources. That's something to clean up going forward. -- Field Yates

Biggest worry: Brees has started all but two regular season games since joining the Saints in 2006, throwing for more than 5,000 yards five times and 30-plus TDs in nine of 11 seasons. At 38 years old, the end is very near, and when he decides -- or his body decides -- it's time to go, what is the Saints' succession plan? Chase Daniel? I don't think so. They have no one in the pipeline for coach Sean Payton to start developing, and that's a problem that needs to be corrected. -- Louis Riddick

What could change for the better: The Saints' No. 28 front-office ranking reflects the team's inability to field a competitive defense, the possibility that Payton might not remain for the long haul, ownership uncertainty and other factors. A case can also be made that the NFL's heavy-handed punishment in Bountygate put the team (and specifically the front office) in an impossible situation, and that the outlook could improve over time. -- Mike Sando

The roster holes alluded to may be simply based off a lack of familiarity with talent. The Saints have done a good job (obviously debatable) over the past few seasons in grabbing some young talent through a combination of the draft, reserve/future deals, and free agency to help be the future face of the roster, but most remain unproven and consistent. The salary cap strategies employed by Mickey Loomis are well-known, but the Saints did have some money to spend in the offseason, unlike past years.

This season will tell us a lot on the direction of where the Saints go, as the speculation can run the gamut of who goes where and what happens if the team turns in another losing season. The reality is that no one really knows whether or not Drew Brees leaves New Orleans or stays put. That’s just one of the many things the team faces after the season.

Meanwhile, you may or may not be interested to know that division rivals had favorable placements. The Falcons came in 3rd, the Buccaneers placed 10th, and the Panthers finished at 13th.