The New Orleans Saints had an active offseason in 2017, after trading Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots, signing multiple free agents on defense in A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor and Manti Te’o, and grabbing the top defensive back available in the 2017 NFL Draft in Marshon Lattimore.
Before the 2017 season went underway, many NFL executives looked favorably at the Saints offseason, giving the Saints a solid B- grade for all of their moves. With many of those same executives predicting the Saints to finish (at best) third in the NFC South, there’s a reason you still have to play the games. And with the benefit of hindsight, the Saints’ 2017 offseason has been regraded by ESPN (Insider required).
And with the 2017 success of rookies Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams and Ryan Ramczyk, plus the production out of free agents like Ted Ginn Jr., it should come as no surprise that the New Orleans Saints were given an absolute A+, the only team in the NFL given such a regrade.
One of the best Saints draft classes in franchise history played a leading role in New Orleans’ winning the NFC South and becoming respectable on defense. Draft choices Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams became immediate starters, while Alvin Kamara rivaled Lattimore as the biggest star of the bunch.
The Brandin Cooks trade gave New Orleans the pick used for Ramczyk. Veteran additions Ted Ginn Jr., Larry Warford, A.J. Klein, Alex Okafor and Manti Te’o were all valued contributors (Adrian Peterson was not, which is why the Saints traded him).
Even the changes Sean Payton made to his coaching staff seemed to pan out.
Interestingly, the Carolina Panthers saw their original offseason grade drop from B+ to C and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fall from an A- all the way down to a C. The Atlanta Falcons improved slightly from a C- to a C+, meaning the other three teams in the NFC South had a roughly “average” 2017 offseason with the Saints the only one to knock it out of the park.
Here’s hoping the 2018 offseason is just as successful.