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New Orleans Saints stay the course as free agency begins in earnest

A lot of dominoes are falling early, but the Saints are playing the normal waiting game

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To say that it’s been a weird day in the NFC South would be like saying COVID-19 has been a “little bug.” Teddy Bridgewater just joined Joe Brady in Carolina, creating a further internal conflict for fans of Louisiana sports, while Tom Brady is reportedly joining the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pitting two of the best quarterbacks of the era against each other twice for at least a season.

In more pressing news, Cory Littleton is signing with the Oakland Raiders, Joe Schobert is heading to Jacksonville, Byron Jones is joining the Dolphins and Jamie Collins is going to the Lions. Amidst all of this, the Saints’ major move has been... re-signing David Onyemata.

While it’s hard to not start twiddling thumbs while waiting for a move, this aligns with the Saints’ modus operandi. The Saints like to stay patient in free agency. The last time they tried to make a major Day 1 splash, they landed Jairus Byrd in 2014. With that in mind, it’s understandable that Mickey Loomis and company might be a bit wary.

The Saints’ free agency strategy has been straightforward for the past three offseasons. Retain key pieces, add a position of need, rest on laurels until the draft. Jeff Ireland has been excellent at drafting for the Saints, but the Saints do have positions that need addressing.

Cornerback is the major spot of need. The situation unfolding now is reminiscent of 2018, when the Saints signed Demario Davis a little under a week into the new league year. Chris Harris is still on the market and his name has been attached to the Saints, so the possibility of a later splash isn’t off the table.

With that beind said, the Saints have been active in their own way. They’ve re-signed Drew Brees and the aforementioned Onyemata, in addition to restructuring the deals of Kiko Alonso and Patrick Robinson — two players at positions of need — to free up some space. They ostensibly have their eyes on someone, although who that is remains to be seen.

The Saints, of course, have three positions of major need. Wide receiver, cornerback and linebacker. Both the cornerback and linebacker positions have taken a hit, but there are big names left on the table. Harris and Desmond Trufant will be names to look out for at corner. At linebacker, the Saints will likely have to look towards the draft. At receiver, Emmanuel Sanders and Robby Anderson are players to look out for opposite Michael Thomas.

Even though it looks like the NFC South is shoring up, the Saints are three-time division champs. That didn’t happen by accident — it happened by following this blueprint. If the Saints end up doing nothing, there may be cause for concern. For the time being, however, they’re approaching free agency like the tortoise. It’s worked in the past. There’s no reason to think that it won’t work again.