Forget “mock drafts.” How about a full-on mock offseason? Roster releases, free agent acquisitions, trades, and the NFL draft - the whole nine yards. This will be the first of multiple mock offseasons, and since it’s the first, let’s keep this one simple...
The New Orleans Saints are set to begin the 2020 offseason with only $9 million in cap space.
The Saints first re-sign Drew Brees to a two-year deal that is essentially a one-year deal with a void year in 2021. Mickey Loomis works his magic, spreading out Drew’s cap hit with a signing bonus spread into the 2021 void year. For purposes of this hypothetical, let’s say such a move frees up “only” $4 million in 2020 cap space.
The Saints continue the offseason with the immediate release of CB Patrick Robinson, freeing up a little over $3.5 million.
The Saints continue their release party, this time with CB Janoris Jenkins to get out from under his $11 million dollar cap hit in 2020. However, they re-sign Jenkins to a 3-year, $33 million dollar deal, with a high dead-cap hit in 2020 but only counting $6 million against the cap in 2020. This move keeps “Jackrabbit” in New Orleans for three years, while simultaneously freeing up $5 million in 2020 cap space.
Another release-and-re-sign is LB Kiko Alonso. The Saints release Alonso to free up almost $8 million, and then re-sign him to a two-year, $12 million dollar contract, in total keeping Alonso with the Saints but freeing $3 million in 2020 cap space.
All-in-all now, the Saints have $24.5 million in cap space now.
The Saints let Andrus Peat walk, creating a hole at left guard, a hole then filled with the free agent acquisition of Joe Thuney, who signs a 4-year, $40 million dollar contract to strengthen the left side of the line.
The Saints slap a first-round tender on QB Taysom Hill, and no team chooses to give up the pick to make it happen. Instead, the Saints keep Hill in 2020 for around $4.5 million.
Of the other Saints free agents, here are the ones who sign with a new team in 2020 who made more than one million in 2019: Peat, Teddy Bridgeawater, AJ Klein, and Eli Apple. The Saints opt to bring back PJ Williams, Justin Hardee, and JT Gray, for a combined 2020 cap hit of $4 million. The Saints also opt to bring back safety Vonn Bell on the franchise tag, projected to be around $12 million. Bell’s new contract, along with the money needed to sign the 2020 draft picks, eats up the rest of the Saints 2020 cap space.
But the Saints still have needs, most notably at wide receiver. In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and with the 24th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select....
LB Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma.
Wait, what? That’s not a wide receiver.
You’re right. The Saints next trade up in the second round, trading a 2021 second, a 2020 fourth, and a 2020 fifth to the Pittsburgh Steelers to select LSU WR Justin Jefferson 49th overall. Then in the third round, 88th overall, the Saints select Kenneth Murray’s teammate, quarterback Jalen Hurts.
That means the Saints go from Teddy Bridgewater to Jalen Hurts. They upgrade their #2 wide receiver position with local product Justin Jefferson. They replace AJ Klein with versatile linebacker Kenneth Murray. They keep Bell as a safety, which allows the Saints to use CJ Gardner-Johnson primarily as a nickel corner, permanently replacing the released Patrick Robinson. Joe Thuney upgrades the left guard position for Andrus Peat, and finally, the Saints keep Taysom Hill under contract, if only for one more year.
This was the “conservative” version of a mocked Saints offseason. Nothing crazy. No mind-blowing trades. No shocking releases. Just one more year of trying to make a run of things behind Drew Brees.
What do you think? Would you be happy if this was the Saints offseason? Let me know in the comments. Send me presents.