The New Orleans Saints will have plenty of positions on both sides of the ball they will need to address this offseason, and they are set to have negative $60 million dollars to work with. There are some questions regarding how the Saints clear the cap space necessary to make moves this offseason, but anyone familiar with this team knows that the Saints front office will always find a way.
With that in mind, the next series of questions then surround what the New Orleans Saints actually do with that money. What positions should they address? Where are the biggest needs? If push comes to shove and the team is forced to forego addressing a particular position in the offseason, which should it be?
While others might disagree, here are my Top 5 positions of need for the Saints to address this offseason, in order from most important to least:
The quarterback is always the most important position in football, and any team that has a question mark at quarterback - like the Saints - have to address that position first.
Building an offense around Jameis Winston is not the same as building an offense around Taysom Hill, which is not the same as building an offense around Russell Wilson, which is not the same as building an offense around a first round rookie. The Saints need to have a plan at quarterback, and that plan has to be in motion so the rest of the team can fall into place.
The only healthy quarterback on the roster for 2022 is rookie Ian Book. Trevor Siemian and Jameis Winston are both free agents. Taysom Hill has multiple foot injuries and has shown that he might not be the best option at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Therefore, the Saints need to address quarterback as the #1 priority this offseason.
Tons of hot takes over here, right?
This is where people might disagree. I’m putting free safety as a bigger position of need above things like wide receiver and offensive line. At wide receiver, the Saints still have 2019 Offensive Player of the Year Michael Thomas under contract and (hopefully) healthy and ready to go for the 2022 season. Tre’Quan Smith is a free agent, but he failed to light up the world during his final season with the Saints. Yes, the Saints needed obviously help at wide receiver this past season, and yes, Tre’Quan Smith is now departing, but the Saints still have players they can expect to compete at a high level in 2022 in the form of Michael Thomas, Deonte Harris (an exclusive rights free agent), Marquez Callaway, and others.
Beyond Marcus Williams at free safety, though, the Saints don’t really have any options, You could make a case for PJ Williams as the Saints top free safety option beyond Marcus Williams, but PJ is a pending free agent and Marcus was playing on his first franchise tag.
The Saints have other options at wide receiver, offensive line, and elsewhere, but there isn’t anyone on the roster at free safety if the Saints can’t retain either of the Williams.
Any time you might lose a Pro Bowler in free agency, that position becomes a spot to address in the offseason. Terron Armstead is a free agent, and the Saints have a big decision to make when it comes to whether to make Armstead an offer to stay in New Orleans.
Beyond Armstead, the Saints have Andrus Peat, who for years was the butt of jokes among Saints fans, and who missed most of last season due to injury. Peat has been replaced by Cesar Ruiz as the new punchline to a not-so-funny joke on the offensive line, and the Saints will have to figure out soon what the plan will be for Ruiz long-term.
The Saints have a capable backup in the form of James Hurst, who may be asked to step into a starting role if Armstead leaves for greener pastures, but even still, the Saints will still need the rotational offensive lineman (a la Senio Kelemete for many years in New Orleans).
And boom goes the dynamite.
Breaking news: The New Orleans Saints need to address the wide receiver position to help whoever is quarterback for the Saints in 2022. Whether they address the position via free agency or the draft (or both), the Saints will have to bring in another contributor to the offense. We’ve seen what can happen to this with even just a single injury to the position, and the depth isn’t there to pick up the slack. The Saints will have to bring in a play-maker at wide receiver, and hopefully that will help ease the burden on the other players on offense like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and whoever the quarterback winds up being.
Speaking of offense positions that could use help, the Saints could use another offensive play-maker, and while many had high hopes for Adam Trautman this past season, he failed to live up to his preseason hype.
Nick Vannett, Adam Trautman, and Juwan Johnson are all under contract for 2022, but that doesn’t mean the Saints should stand pat at the position. Vannett is a solid blocking tight end, but neither Trautman nor Johnson proved to be reliable in the passing game at the position. Maybe Taysom Hill becomes one of the team’s best tight ends if someone else plays quarterback, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the team add to the position in free agency.
There’s an argument that defensive tackle, linebacker, and others could round out the Top 5 over tight end, but I’d like to see this Saints team add more weapons on offense for Sean Payton to back to his old “Sean Payton”-self.
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