Rookie minicamp is underway.
Usually, by this point, the majority of the wild trades and insane free-agent signings have already happened, and the New Orleans Saints have been a big benefactor in that regard this offseason.
Acquiring Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry, not to mention drafting Chris Olave and Trevor Penning, has set New Orleans up to be a prime contender in a weaker than normal NFC.
We spent some time last week talking about a few players that the Saints showed they have ultimate trust in. Now, we’ll look at a few guys who might want to step their game up a notch this season if they want to stay around.
Tre’Quan Smith, WR
This shouldn’t be a surprise to a lot of people.
Smith, a 3rd round pick out of UCF in 2018, has been underperforming since he got to New Orleans. In four years, he just eclipsed 1000 yards for his career, and the most catches he’s had in a single season is 34. Yes, people will always remember him as the guy who scored the touchdown when Drew Brees broke the career passing yards record, but I just haven’t seen the value in him during his time in the Black and Gold. Now, with signing Juice Landry and drafting Chris Olave, the front office may not see it for much longer.
James Hurst, OL
This one’s kind of tricky.
I like James Hurst and I think he can be a good depth piece. He’s an undrafted free agent that spent the first 6 years of his career in Baltimore and came over to New Orleans in 2020. Since then, he’s struggled to find a spot in the line other than as an injury replacement. Which, somebody has to fill that role, right? Regardless, now that Trevor Penning has been drafted to almost certainly play left tackle, Hurst is again back in that replacement, fill-in role. Being that he’s nearly 31 years old, we’ll see how much longer the Saints want to keep him around if he’s just going to be an alternate.
Tony Jones Jr., RB
This one is pretty simple also.
Jones, a UDFA from Notre Dame, is only 24 years old and has a lot of career ahead of him, just might not be in a New Orleans Saints uniform. Jones has struggled to find his footing behind Kamara and Ingram in the Saints offense, only carrying the ball 54 times last year for an underwhelming 142 yards. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Kamara’s going to be suspended and Ingram isn’t getting younger”. You’re right, I agree with both of those statements. However, they resigned Dwayne Washington, Ingram has shown a lot of flashes this offseason, and the front office LOVES Abram Smith, the UDFA from Baylor who just got signed to a $220,000 contract. Tony Jones Jr. will have to make his touches this year count, or he will be with a new team in 2023.
The New Orleans Saints open their season on September 11, 2022, against the Atlanta Falcons from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.