Change is inevitable in professional sports.
Whether it’s a new ownership group, new stadium or logos, or a star player retiring (See ya, Brady!), there’s almost always something different each year.
This offseason has brought another major change to the Saints. Last year, Drew Brees retired after bringing this franchise to unprecedented heights. A year later, the coach that brought Drew in and helped bring New Orleans out of the darkness is also retiring. Sean Payton announced his retirement in January. You can read our article on that here.
So now the question becomes: how do the Saints keep up the success?
Enter Dennis Allen.
Allen, who has spent the last seven years in New Orleans as the defensive coordinator in his second stint with the Saints (2006-2010), was promoted to the head coaching position last month to somewhat continue the process Payton had laid out over the past decade and a half.
But now, the Saints deal with a plethora of other issues: cap space (highest cap overage in the league), free agency/draft decisions, and off the field discipline issues (we’ll see how that plays out with AK). Somehow, Allen and GM Mickey Loomis are going to have to work some Voodoo magic to get this right.
The cap space is nothing new, as New Orleans has wiggled their way back under the cap line for multiple seasons now by restructuring salary into signing bonus and other avenues. The Saints entered this offseason $75 million over the cap space. This week, they restructured the contracts of Michael Thomas, Andrus Peat, and Ryan Ramczyk and have nearly cut that number in half.
Now, let’s talk about more restructures they can do, free agency and draft moves, and more in this 2022 Mock Offseason.
First move that needs to be made, in my opinion, is to restructure Marshon Lattimore, who just extended at the beginning of this season for $97 million over the next five years. Also, Alvin Kamara (4 years remaining on his $75 million contract) is another move that could help the Saints get under the salary cap. Lastly, resigning guys like Cam Jordan (34) and DeMario Davis (33) to shorter, less salary deals could help also.
The most intriguing factor of the offseason is free agency and Draft Day. The Saints, like many other teams in the NFL, have some very difficult decisions to make this offseason. Do you resign Jameis after his ACL injury? Do you draft a new QB? Who replaces Terron Armstead on the O-Line? Who’s the QB going to throw to outside of Mike Thomas?
If I’m Mickey Loomis, that is priority #1. You have to get a QB and a second receiver for him to throw to. Because, as much as I like Calloway’s potential, he’s just not there yet. I like Chris Olave (Ohio State) to continue the Buckeye tradition in New Orleans. Other options at wideout include Drake London (USC) and Justyn Ross (Clemson) look like viable options with good size and breakaway speed. Lastly, in terms of QB, resign Jameis to a team-friendly 1 year deal with the possibility of extension if he performs well. There’s no viable option in the trade market because they’re either getting older or the Saints would have to sign over their future for him.
The O-Line scenario, I think it’s best to fix that in the draft. Terron Armstead will take a lot off the books when he doesn’t resign (highly likely), and you can keep the cap lower by gaining some rookie deals. Guys like Darian Kinnard (Kentucky) in the 2nd round and Max Mitchell (Louisiana) and Chris Paul (Tulsa) in the 3rd are great options to beef up the line with young talent. However, keeping the current line together wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario, considering New Orleans was 4th-best in the league in sacks allowed (33 in 2021).
The 2022 season will be a memorable one for New Orleans, with Dennis Allen starting his coaching tenure in the Black and Gold as well as a trip Across the Pond to play in London. With the draft nearly six weeks away, things can get interesting here very quickly, so we’ll keep you up to date on everything, from combine results to draft analysis and season previews.
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