The New Orleans Saints have stayed true to self over the past few off-seasons, looking for ways to get better and secure key pieces. As we go into the ‘22-’23 season, let’s look at some of the previous decisions made and see if Mickey Loomis was on point.
New Orleans released one if its (former) most noticeable pass rushers, Trey Hendrickson, to save cap space. Hendrickson signed with Cincinnati and made an immediate impact. Hendrickson posted 13.5 sacks in his last season with New Orleans and posted 14 sacks last year with Cincinnati. Sacks never tell the whole story with pass rushers but that’s a testament to what he brings to the table. It’s easy to say Loomis dropped the ball with Hendrickson, but that’d be surface level. New Orleans saved money that they technically didn’t have, and the defense didn’t miss a step last year. There are a few new faces in the rotation this year to give Cam and Davenport some help. The pass rush has never been a problem and won’t be this year.
The Saints also let Janoris Jenkins walk. In hindsight, this seems to be a good move. While Jenkins was productive and far from a slouch, he was still the biggest liability in the secondary.
Jenkins has said and doubled down on New Orleans being the best organization he ever played for: “Hands down,” Jenkins said. “Because they understand football, and they understand players. They don’t look to kill their guys, beat their guys down, have their guys prove a point, like around camp time. Now they work, don’t get me wrong. They know how to take care of their players.”
Since Jenkins’ release, Lattimore and Ceedy Deuce have both improved noticeably. They’re cream of the crop and Lattimore is a top-3 corner at worst. Paulson Adebo looks to be a complete STEAL after his rookie campaign, with nothing but room for improvement. Bradley Roby was the secondary’s liability last year, but he’s probably a better liability than Jenkins. Rookie Alontae Taylor possesses all of the traits that should fit in with this group, so we’ll wait on the verdict with him... but I expect him to show up when his number is called.
New Orleans let TE Jared Cook go and this was a great move. He probably cost the team a SB appearance, but we won’t reflect on that.
New Orleans also let Emmanuel Sanders walk, who had high praise for the front office as well. Sanders seemed to be a great fit for the team, but it just didn’t work out in terms of longevity. New Orleans went through a season of struggling at WR, with Mike Thomas out last year. But now, WR has went from the biggest concern to no concern at all. Mike is back, Jarvis Landry is in black and gold and Chris Olave is looking to make a OROY campaign. Add Kamara out of the backfield + Taysom getting some reps at TE... Add on playmakers like Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harty who can get it done in between the numbers and for the deep ball... Weapons galore.
New Orleans resigned DB P.J. Williams and OT James Hurst over the ‘21 offseason and both of these guys bring important depth. Williams is no stranger to making plays and the fact that he’s at the bottom of the depth chart with this secondary, is... good. Mathieu and Marcus Maye will be big-time this year, and P.J. should have more than enough opportunities to give those guys some depth throughout the season. Hurst is a security blanket at OT. New Orleans just drafted rookie Trevor Penning and he looks to be a day-one starter. However, Hurst is still there in case you need him.
All in all, none of these seem to be “bad” moves. This team’s Super Bowl window is still well and alive, with most of the core pieces still being in their prime. Mickey Loomis has consistently been getting the job done and putting this team in position to win. It’s pretty much a matter of health at this point.