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Recapping the Saints offseason moves thus far

It’s been a busy offseason when you stop to think about it.

New Orleans Saints v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints have had a pretty interesting offseason thus far. While the excitement and rumors haven’t always translated to tangible roster moves, it’s hard to deny the fact that the Saints have been consistently looking for ways to improve the team.

As we are now a month into free agency, let’s recap the Saints offseason to date:

Coaching staff

Let’s start with the coaches before we dive into the players. Former Super Bowl Champion Sean Payton surprisingly announced his retirement, and after a brief search for a new head coach, the Saints promoted defensive coordinate Dennis Allen to the role. Assistant coaches Ryan Nielsen and Kris Richard were then promoted to co-defensive coordinator positions, and after a bit of “will he/won’t he,” Pete Carmichael stuck around as the offensive coordinator.

Players lost

The Saints lost a pair of elite starters in free agency. Safety Marcus Williams signed a 5-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens and Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead signed a 5-year contract with the Miami Dolphins. Another starter, Malcolm Jenkins, retired.

The Saints also lost a bit of depth on offense, with running back/wide receiver Ty Montgomery joining the New England Patriots, tight end Garrett Griffin signing with the Detroit Lions, and quarterback Trevor Siemian going to Chicago. Speaking of quarterback, Blake Bortles is also technically a player “lost” in free agency, as he was recently granted his release from the team.

Players gained

To replace Trevor Siemian, the Saints signed Chicago’s former backup, Andy Dalton.

To replace Marcus Williams, the Saints immediately signed Marcus Maye, a player with elite upside on the backend of the defense.

The Saints also signed a bunch of depth to help out the team, including DL Kentavius Street (a rotational defensive lineman who can play defensive tackle), S Daniel Sorensen (a veteran special teamer), DT Jaleel Johnson (another rotational DT to help provide depth at a position of need), DE Taco Charlton (former first round pick to use as rotational edge rush), and S Justin Evans (a high-upside defensive back returning from injury).

Players retained

Many of the Saints moves were about keeping the players they already had in-house. New Orleans was able to keep or re-sign many of their free agents, including QB Jameis Winston, WR Tre’Quan Smith, DB PJ Williams, WR Deonte Harty, DT Shy Tuttle, DE Carl Granderson, TE Juwan Johnson, DT Albert Huggins.

Taysom Hill was never up for free agency, but his services have been re-purposed this offseason with Dennis Allen announcing the plan for Taysom Hill is to be a primary tight end for the 2022 Saints.

The “almost” moves

The move that received the most attention was the Saints’ pursuit of QB Deshaun Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns. New Orleans and Atlanta were considered the two front-runners for Watson’s services, but an eleventh-hour contract offer from Cleveland swayed the deal. Once Watson decided on the Browns, the Saints immediately shifted gears to retain Jameis Winston.

New Orleans also reportedly had an offer to retain Terron Armstead on the table that was later beat by Miami, and reports are that the Saints made a strong push to sign WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling before the former Packer signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The trade

Three weeks before the 2022 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles agreed to a blockbuster trade, with the Saints ending up with picks 16 and 19 in the first round of the 2022 Draft. The Saints were forced to part with a 2023 first round pick and other picks in the process, but all in all, New Orleans was left with picks 16, 19, 49, 98, 120, 161, and 194 in this year’s draft. That means the New Orleans Saints have three picks in the top 50, where impact starters could be added on cheap rookie contracts.

Positions of need

After the signings and extensions, the Saints are left with clear holes at wide receiver, offensive line, and safety. Running back (due to the inevitable suspension of Alvin Kamara), quarterback (considering Jameis Winston is only under contract for two seasons), and tight end (due to an underwhelming year from Adam Trautman last season) are also positions that could use improvement.

Remaining free agents

The Saints still have one key free agent left to make a decision on - linebacker Kwon Alexander. Out-of-house free agents still available include S Tyrann Mathieu (recently in for a visit to New Orleans), WR Odell Beckham Jr. (who the Saints courted last season before a trade to the Los Angeles Rams), WR Jarvis Landry (another former LSU star), and AJ Green (a player the Saints previously tried trading for back when Green was with the Cincinnati Bengals). Signing one or more of the above would help reduce the number of holes remaining on the 2022 Saints as we head into the draft, but signing a free agent wide receiver would probably not keep the Saints from trying to add an young, impact receiver with one of their early picks.