The New Orleans Saints are dropping like flies at this point. Retirements (Drew Brees). Free agency departures (Trey Hendrickson). Arrests (Marshon Lattimore). PEDs (David Onyemata). And now injuries (Michael Thomas).
With Michael Thomas expected to begin the year on the PUP list, we’ll cover various options the New Orleans Saints could look to this week as potential replacements, including additions via the trade market, free agency, and even internal options already on the roster. Up first, we’ll cover what remains from a pretty bare free agency bargain bin, especially after former Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook just signed with the Minnesota Vikings.
Without further adieu, here are four free agent wide receivers the Saints should consider to replace Michael Thomas.
We’ve covered Golden Tate a fair bit this offseason, even before the Michael Thomas surgery news broke. At 32-years-old, Tate’s best football years are probably behind him, but he’s a quality NFL wide receiver who has shown an ability to headline an offense in the past. He didn’t put up great numbers for the New York Giants last season - which has likely contributed to him still being on the market today - but that’s due in no small part to being without Saquon Barkley and having a first-year head coach in Joe Judge.
In 2017, Tate had over 1,000 receiving yards as a member of the Detroit Lions, and with a potential gunslinger quarterback like Jameis Winston who shares a lot of similarities with Matthew Stafford, it wouldn’t be outrageous to imagine Tate could find success in New Orleans under Sean Payton.
Let’s go ahead and get this one out of the way.
The Saints tried adding Dez Bryant late in the 2018 season before an Achilles injury kept Dez from ever seeing the field for New Orleans. With Dez, now 32-years-old, openly campaigning for an NFL job, it wouldn’t be a shock if the Saints tried kicking the tires on the former Cowboys star once again.
Bryant was able to see game time in 2020 for the first time in three seasons, catching two touchdown passes as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. While Golden Tate is 5’10 but a bit healthier and crisper route-runner at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is 6’2 and presents a big-bodied presence if the Saints want to find someone to replace what Michael Thomas could do in the short and intermediate parts of the field.
This one is tricky, because Gordon still hasn’t been reinstated by the NFL.
If Roger Goodell eventually reinstates Gordon for the 2021 season - and that’s a big “if” - the football fit is clearly there. While teams and fans salivate over the prospects of what Gordon could do if he could avoid issues with marijuana that caused him to miss the entire 2015, 2016, and 2020 seasons, it has been eight years since Gordon led the league in receiving yards in 2013 as a member of the Cleveland Browns.
Still, the superstar talent is there, and Sean Payton has already shown a willingness to check in on wide receivers with questionable backgrounds after bringing in Antonio Brown for a workout two years ago.
The Saints are already having Chris Hogan work out for the team today, so it’s possible a Chris Hogan signing happens sooner rather than later. Hogan, most recently a New York Jet in the NFL but now a lacrosse player, is likely most known to most NFL fans for his time as a member of the New England Patriots.
In 2017, when Julian Edelman tore his ACL in September, it was Chris Hogan who started to step up in a big way for the Patriots, averaging 70 receiving yards and over a touchdown per game in a four-game stretch from Weeks 2 thru 5. Hogan then injured his shoulder and was placed on injured reserve to end the season, and he hasn’t been able to find similar success.
Last year, Hogan played in only five games for the Jets, totaling just 118 yards with no touchdowns. His last full season was in 2018, where he averaged just over 30 yards per game as a member of the New England Patriots.