The off-season is in full gear and the New Orleans Saints have been far from inactive. A few players have left and more have returned, maintaining most of the core that has led this team to being #2 in regular season wins since 2017 (behind KC). But how does New Orleans get over the hump?
The Saints brought in Marcus Maye, after losing Marcus Williams to free agency. This move softened the blow of losing Williams about as much as you could ask. Other additions such as Kentavius Street (formerly 49ers) and Daniel Sorenson (formerly KC) will be huge down the road in terms of depth. So, what voids need to be filled?
Receiver, receiver, receiver. This should be, by a landslide, the number one priority for the Saints. I fully hope and expect the team to go WR in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft and would even advocate looking for another receiver in a later round. The team has missed out on most free agents at the position but a couple still remain available, such as Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr.
After missing out on Deshaun, the team quickly brought back Jameis which was the common sense move. Prior to the injury last year, Jameis led the team to a 5-2 start with a career high TD/INT rate. He did this without Michael Thomas and injuries everywhere else seemingly. Receivers won't be hard to find in this draft, and there should be multiple options for a stud WR at pick 18... But even then, that shouldn't be the end of searching for weapons.
Other than receiver, New Orleans needs added depth at OL (mainly tackle after losing Armstead) and DT. Going WR again in the second round isn’t ideal, especially for an organization with the track record the Saints have but it’s not a bad idea. However, assuming that doesn't happen, I believe OL should be the main focus in round two. There’s a couple offensive lineman in the SEC that could fall to the second round, that the team should look into. Ed Ingram (LSU) is one that comes to mind, with experience at both guard and tackle.
The defense was great again last year, the film proves it. Some of the numbers were misleading, due to the deplorable (unhealthy) offense we saw, making everything harder for the defense. Good news is, it’s almost impossible to draw such bad luck on health again this year. I don't see the defense falling off much, if at all. However, the pass rush did take a month or two to start ramping up, which is something that can and probably will be addressed. Last year’s rookie Payton Turner showed great flashes in the limited time he played, and he could mold into a gem for this defense if he stays on the field... But you can never have too much depth. Turner will most likely be lined up on the outside so I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Mickey Loomis and Dennis Allen look to deepen the middle of the front-four before training camp.
As alluded to earlier, if the front office can manage to pair a couple weapons with the superstar duo of Kamara/Thomas we already have, the offense could be just as superb as the defense. If other role players will get in where they fit in, that would be a recipe for another successful season, hopefully and very possibly with a better ending.