The New Orleans Saints, along with the rest of the NFL, officially begin the 2018 season tomorrow, with the beginning of the free agent signing period. Every team will begin to take on a new look from last year's version, and the defending NFC South champions will be no different. The Saints have shifted their free agency focus over the last two years, bypassing the big names on the downside of their careers in favor of younger players coming into their prime. The 2018 Saints are in a potential position to bring in free agents that are both in high demand as well as on the upswing in their careers. Brian Bienemy (@BryanTNR) of ESPN New Orleans seems to sense that New Orleans is prepared to make a major statement as free agency begins
Check out @BryanTNR’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/BryanTNR/status/973319017128759297?ref_src=twcamp%5Eshare%7Ctwsrc%5Eandroid%7Ctwgr%5Edefault%7Ctwcon%5E7090%7Ctwterm%5E3
Here are five headlines that I believe the New Orleans Saints will make when the 2018 NFL year officially starts on Wednesday.
Saints will not tender Delvin Breaux, Willie Snead, or Brandon Coleman
New Orleans has until 4pm EST on Wednesday to tender offers to cornerback Delvin Breaux, wide receiver Willie Snead, and wide receiver Brandon Coleman, otherwise they become unrestricted free agents. Breaux seemed on his way to being a top NFL cornerback before a broken leg derailed him in 2016, and injury complications prevented him from playing last season. Coleman has proven to be a very capable number four wideout, but has not progressed to the level that the team had hoped. The regression of Snead is as puzzling as it was surprising. After two years of nearly 1,000 yards receiving, 141 catches, and being a top 3rd down threat, Snead had only 8 receptions for less than 100 yards last season. Any one of these players may very well return to New Orleans in an important complimentary role, but would be free to sign with any other team without compensation to the Saints if not tendered.
Saints sign WR Donte Moncrief
After the trade of Jarvis Landry to Cleveland over the weekend, and the news late last night that Allen Robinson will sign with Chicago, Moncrief is one of the best receivers left in a thin market. The former Colt has gamebreaking ability, combining good size with excellent acceleration and athletic ability. Moncrief has struggled with consistency, in part due to the Colts struggles at quarterback after Andrew Luck's shoulder injury. A change of scenery, and an accurate quarterback such as Drew Brees getting the ball in Moncrief's hands in open field with a chance to make plays may bring out the best in this former Mississippi star. He would join Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn, and Alvin Kamara to again give Brees one of the most dangerous passing games in the league.
(Option #2= WR Eric Decker, Titans)
Saints sign LB Christian Jones
Perhaps not the "splash signing" that inking Philadelphia's Nigel Bradham, Dallas' Anthony Hitchens, or Detroit's Tahir Whitehead would be, but this would be a solid addition to a rapidly improving defense. Jones was one of the leading tacklers on a solid Chicago defense, and extremely active against the run as well as pass coverage. Jones is a versatile linebacker that can play inside or outside, and would add more athletic ability to this New Orleans unit. He has the ability to be an every down linebacker, and would be utilized in multiple roles by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to bolster one of the defense's weakest areas.
(Option #2= LB Nigel Bradham, Eagles)
Saints sign CB Aaron Colvin
Cornerbacks are a highly valued commodity in the NFL, nearly as much as pass rushers or quarterback. The Saints already have a great one in 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year Marshon Lattimore, and another good one in Ken Crawley. Colvin is an aggressive corner that can play either outside or the slot, and has the physicality to match up against the league's bigger receivers. He was a major contributor on a Jacksonville defense that ranked 1st against the pass in 2017. He would further solidify a young Saints defensive backfield to take on the likes of Atlanta's Julio Jones and Tampa Bay's Mike Evans in the NFC South.
Welcome Home, Jimmy Graham!
Jimmy Graham will already go down as one of the best offensive players in New Orleans Saints history. Graham established himself as one of the best tight ends in the game while with New Orleans between 2011-14, before being traded to Seattle in the 2015 offseason. Graham is beyond his physical prime, but is still a capable threat in the middle of the field and the red zone, something that the Saints sorely lacked a season ago. A reunion between Graham and the team that drafted him in 2010 has been rumored for weeks by multiple sources, but the Green Bay Packers are also heavily recruiting this offensive playmaker. He does have a close relationship with the newly re-signed Drew Brees, and could further cement his place as a Saints great, while filling a huge need for a New Orleans team chasing another championship.