The New Orleans Saints pursued their former All-Pro star, Jimmy Graham, last offseason in an attempt to shore up one of the most inconsistent spots on the team in terms of production. Graham had played for the Saints from 2010-14, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl and setting several records for his receiving production. Following his surprising trade to Seattle after the '14 season, the Saints have struggled to maintain any sort of production from the position. Today, we have a look back at how this group influenced the 2018 New Orleans Saints.
Even though Graham spurned the Saints for a free agent offer from Green Bay (How'd that work out for ya, Jimmy?), New Orleans did reunite with an old friend when they inked former Saint Benjamin Watson to a free agent deal before training camp. Watson had previously played for New Orleans from 2013-15, and in 2015 achieved career highs for receptions (74), receiving yards (825), and touchdowns (6). The fifteen year veteran was a trusted target of quarterback Drew Brees, and finished the year with 35 catches for 400 yards and 2 scores. Unfortunately, the 38-yr. old Watson's best days were behind him, and he wasn't able to give the offense a consistent receiving threat, eventually announcing down the stretch that 2018 would be his final season.
Josh Hill wrapped up his sixth season in New Orleans, finishing with a career high 185 receiving yards and tying his career best with 16 receptions while scoring once. Hill has nice athleticism in the open field, and like Watson is an outstanding blocker, but has never developed into a bonafide offensive threat that the team had hoped for when trading away Graham. Not a starting caliber tight end, Hill is a role player that is important for the success in the running game, but provides little flair as a receiver.
Converted wideout Dan Arnold turned heads in training camp with his acrobatic catches and open field abilities. He was active in ten games in 2018, starting one, and finished with 12 catches for 150 yards and a touchdown. Arnold didn't add much as a blocker, but showed that he could be counted on to add depth as the team heads into their offseason decisions. The Saints activated Garrett Griffin as they headed into this year's playoffs. The second year Griffin, who had one career reception in 2017, caught two passes for 12 yards and his first career touchdown, in the NFC championship game. He's limited athletically and doesn't provide much downfield threat, but his blocking ability could help him carve out a depth role next season.
The Saints tight ends were often a non-factor in the passing game during the 2018 season. Ben Watson, Josh Hill, and Dan Arnold combined for just 17% of the team's completions and receiving yardage this past season. Watson's veteran leadership and professionalism will be missed, but this group is in major need of new talent. With players like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara as the offensive focal points, the Saints offense doesn't necessarily need "the next Jimmy Graham", but they could definitely benefit from a solid dual threat here that could challenge a defense. Free agent additions, such as Jesse James (Steelers) or Maxx Williams (Ravens) could be pursued, as well as the likelihood of a draft pick.
TIGHT END GRADE = D
How would you grade the Saints tight ends in 2018?
This poll is closed