It’s time for the New Orleans Saints to start game-planning for the 2019 season. That means the Saints need to assess the nature of their 2018 roster and figure out its biggest needs for 2019. Let’s address what I think are the top 4 biggest needs for the Saints to address in either the 2019 NFL Draft or via free agency. Now this won’t include extending players currently under contract, it doesn’t consider the absence of players who are exclusive or restricted free agents, and it doesn’t consider - for now - the holes created by possible trades, cuts, or restructures.
But with that out of the way, here are what I consider the most important positions for the Saints to address this offseason:
This should come as no surprising. With Benjamin Watson retiring after the 2018 season, that leaves Josh Hill, Garrett Griffin - who has only one career reception, and UDFA Dan Arnold.
There had been initial hopes that the Saints would be able to get Jimmy Graham if the Packers released him, but it doesn’t look like that will be the case.
A non-Super Bowl tidbit: When the #Packers prepare for the offseason, they do so with the belief that TE Jimmy Graham will be back for 2019, source said. He’s due a $5M roster bonus on 3/15, and the expectation now is they pay it and he returns. Another season with Aaron Rodgers.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 29, 2019
Jimmy Graham or otherwise, the Saints will have to look at either free agents or a deep draft class to bring something more to the group. When Josh Hill is the best pass-catching tight end of the group, there’s a problem.
Drew Brees doesn’t have much left to give in the NFL. He knows it, the Saints know it, the fans know it, and the NFL world knows it.
It is more likely than not that 2019 is the swan song for Drew Brees. The Saints will need to do something to address the quarterback position for 2020 and beyond. Maybe the answer is Teddy Bridgewater and Teddy decides to stick around in New Orleans on the bench for another season. Maybe the Saints attempt to address it in the draft, but it’s going to be difficult considering the Saints don’t have a first round pick.
We’ll see what happens, but honestly, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Saints ignore this need much like they did last offseason.
To end the 2018 season, the Saints had Michael Thomas at wide receiver, and not really anything else. Ted Ginn missed a big chunk of the year, and like Drew Brees, he isn’t getting any younger. Cameron Meredith missed the majority of his season after never fully recovering from his knee injury. Rookie Tre’Quan Smith was inconsistent all year to say the least. Dez Bryant was signed to a one year deal, but never saw the field. Undrafted free agents Keith Kirkwood and Austin Carr struggled to get separation from NFL-caliber corners.
The Saints could opt to rely on Cameron Meredith, previously signed to a two-year deal, but his return from injury is still questionable at best. The Saints could opt to re-sign Dez Bryant, who seemed to immediately latch on with the team and fans with news of his signing. The Saints could instead (or in addition) address the position in the draft. In any event, they need to do something.
Like Drew Brees, Max Unger at Center is not getting any younger. Jermon Bushrod is likely to retire at the end of the season. Andrus Peat struggled at times (that is putting it likely) near the end of the season - although his broken hand could have been a primary culprit. Terron Armstead, as great as he is, has failed to play a full 16-game season in his entire professional career.
The Saints have young options like Will Clapp out of LSU, but it would be nice to continue to bring in depth via the draft to keep the Saints offensive line one of the better in the league, both in 2019 and beyond.