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New Orleans Saints offseason preview: Tight End

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Could New Orleans add another playmaker to the tight end spot?

New Orleans Saints v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints surprised most people by not selecting either a wide receiver or tight end during the 2019 NFL draft. The Saints would make a free agent splash by signing Pro Bowler Jared Cook to a two-year contract, adding a playmaking element to the position that had been lacking since trading Jimmy Graham after the 2014 season. The Saints enter the 2020 offseason still in search of offensive playmakers. Today we examine the possibility of adding such a weapon.

TIGHT END

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agents: None

Under Contract: Jared Cook, Garrett Griffin, Josh Hill, Jason Vander Laan

Cook wrapped up his 11th NFL season with 43 receptions for 705 yards and 9 touchdowns in spite of missing two games of action and starting the season slowly. He was tied with Michael Thomas for the team lead in touchdown receptions, a career high, while his 16.4 yards per catch were also a career best. The 6'5 254-Lb Cook presents a size mismatch for most defensive backs and has the athletic advantage over most linebackers. Once Cook became comfortable with the New Orleans offense, he teamed with Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara to form a lethal trio of weapons for quarterback Drew Brees. The 33-Yr old tight end is still one of the most dangerous receiving threats at the position in the league and is under contract through the end of this season.

Wild Card Round - Minnesota Vikings v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Seventh year pro Josh Hill continues to be one of the NFL's most underrated blocking tight ends. A valuable tool in the Saints running attack, Hill set new career highs with 25 receptions for 226 yards. He adds little as a downfield receiver, but is a trusted checkdown and short yardage target for Brees. Hill is an excellent blocker and adequate short yardage receiver, but offers little threat in the passing attack. The roster spots of Garrett Griffin and Jason VanderLaan should be easily supplanted if the Saints address this spot in any way during the offseason.

NFL: NOV 22 Falcons at Saints Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Cook's presence in the lineup might make it seem unlikely that the Saints bring in another high-priced free agent at the position. We've seen the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles have alot of offensive success with receiving depth at tight end though, and give Brees a lethal two-headed threat at this spot. With that in mind, a target like Hunter Henry of the Chargers, Eric Ebron of the Colts, or Atlanta's Austin Hooper could be a worthy investment for the team. All three are top receiving options and are younger than Cook, whose contract expires at years end.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - LSU v Oklahoma Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Some early mock drafts have projected the Saints taking Notre Dame's Cole Kmet with the 24th overall pick in the 1st round. Thaddeus Moss of L.S.U., son of NFL Hall Famer Randy Moss, would be an explosive receiving option with great upside potential is another early round prospect. Dayton's Adam Trautman is a smaller school star who could be a Day 3 steal who could sneak into Day 2 depending on pre-draft workouts.

Most expect the Saints to add wide receivers to their offensive attack, either through the draft or free agency. Adding another weapon at tight end would give Brees an extra offensive dimension that he hasn't had in his nineteen NFL seasons though, and give the Saints an extra threat in the middle of the field.

Poll

How should the Saints address the tight end position this offseason?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    High-end free agent
    (12 votes)
  • 16%
    Low-end free agent
    (26 votes)
  • 26%
    Day 1 or 2 draft pick
    (41 votes)
  • 49%
    Day 3 draft pick or undrafted college player
    (76 votes)
155 votes total Vote Now