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Playing out the Saints offseason and 2024 season in Madden

Using Madden to get a preview of the Saints offseason and how it may impact the 2024 season.

ReliaQuest Bowl - Wisconsin v LSU Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints season is over, and they now look towards an offseason with many questions. They do not have any cap room, which will limit their ability to sign free agents and retain players such as Cesar Ruiz, Rashid Shaheed, and Andrus Peat. All eyes will be on the NFL draft where they hold the 14th overall pick and can go one of many different ways. They could choose to strengthen the offensive line or provide quarterback Derek Carr a new weapon or try and get their quarterback of the future right now. Madden NFL 24 gives us an opportunity to play out the offseason one of many different ways and get a preview of what the Saints will be able to do and how that will translate in the 2024 season. To do this I started a new franchise mode and took over as Saints GM for the upcoming offseason and 2024 season. Here are the results.

2023 Playoffs

First, I’d like to congratulate the Baltimore Ravens for winning Super Bowl LVIII as they beat the underdog Packers in Vegas to claim their third title. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott takes home the MVP while Ravens DE Justin Madubuike takes home Super Bowl MVP with a two-sack performance.

Coaching Changes

The first move I decided to make as new GM of the Saints was to move on from head coach Dennis Allen. I thought the team needed to go in a different direction after three straight seasons of missing the playoffs and wanted to bring in some new blood from outside the organization to get us back in contention.

The man hired to lead the 2024 Saints is Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson (or at least who we can assume is Ben Johnson as Madden does not feature real life coordinators but rather randomly generated coaches).

Replacing Pete Carmichael as OC will be long time Green Bay Packers QB coach and former Saints assistant Tom Clements, and taking over as DC will be Cleveland Browns defensive line coach Ben Bloom.

Oh yeah, I also managed to hire Coach Prime as a scout, which I guess he’ll be doing part-time but who’s going to pass up the opportunity to bring in Primetime? Joining him in the scouting department are a pair of former Jacksonville Jaguars running backs Maurice Jones-Drew and future Hall of Famer Fred Taylor. Someone in Jacksonville has to know what they’re doing and hopefully it’s them.

Re-Signing Players

The first surprise of the offseason was Taysom Hill retiring at age 33 with no signs of slowing down. Perhaps he retired to try his hand at another sport after playing basically every position in football already. I hope when I next boot up NBA 2k24 I don’t see him playing shooting guard for the Pelicans.

Notable players in need of new contracts this offseason are Cesar Ruiz, Rashid Shaheed, Jameis Winston, and Andrus Peat. The Saints are way over the cap, so in order to free up some money to work with this offseason I had to restructure a few contracts as the Saints have been doing for seemingly the last decade. Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Demario Davis, Cameron Jordan, and Alvin Kamara all accepted contract restructures (Madden now has a contract restructure feature by the way this wasn’t me just manually lowing their salary which you also can do), and I managed to free up around $23 million in cap space to work with. The following contracts were agreed to:

  • Re-signed Cesar Ruiz; 3-year $12.9 million
  • Re-signed Rashid Shaheed; 4-year $17.1 million
  • Re-signed Zack Baun; 3-year $10.8 million
  • Re-signed Lynn Bowden, Jr.; 1-year $1.2 million

And the following were turned down:

  • Jameis Winston turned down 2-year $8 million
  • Johnathan Abrams turned down 1-year $1.8 million

I would have loved to have kept Jameis to compete at QB and Abrams for depth at safety but unfortunately, they each decided to test free agency. All other players up for renewal, including Andrus Peat, Isaac Yiadom and Malcolm Roach, were not retained.

Other moves made in this stage were to decline the fifth-year option on DE Payton Turner and to release punter Lou Hedley. In need of some more draft capital and still wanting to clear some cap room I managed to pull off the following trades:

  • Traded Jamaal Williams and 7th rounder to Packers for a 3rd rounder (95th overall)
  • Traded Payton Turner and 6th rounder to Texans for a 4th rounder (122nd overall)

Jamaal Williams returns to Green Bay who is in need of more depth at RB while Turner heads to the up-and-coming Texans. The Saints did not have many picks this year so in order to rebuild this roster I needed to acquire a few more.

Free Agency

Entering free agency, I had just over $9 million to work with. Looking to bolster the offensive line I signed Packers guard Jon Runyan to a 2-year $5.2 million contract. Runyan is an upgrade at guard as a 76 overall player but is still someone who I was able to afford. Punter Blake Gillikin was brought back on a 2-year $2.2 million contract, and our old pal Kwon Alexander was also brought in for 1-year $1.1 million. I signed Alexander without realizing he is coming off a torn Achilles tendon so great research work there, but hey this is a video game so I’m sure he’ll be ok by Week 1.

Your 2024 free agent class. We only make big money deals here in New Orleans

Big name free agent signings across the league included Tyron Smith to the Titans, Super Bowl MVP Justin Madubuike to the Bengals, and Bobby Wagner to the Lions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided not to re-sign Baker Mayfield, who would head to New England, and instead elected roll with Zach Wilson at QB and also hired Dennis Allen as offensive coordinator (yes, OFFENSIVE coordinator). I don’t know what they’re putting in the water down in Tampa but I want some.

The Houston Texans decided to go all-in now that they have a budding superstar at QB in CJ Stroud, as they sign a massive free agent class that includes L’Jarius Sneed, DJ Reader, Jadeveon Clowney, Hollywood Brown, and Deion Jones.

Jameis Winston signs with the Buffalo Bills for a 1-year $680,000 deal after turning down my offer of $8 million (I hope he fired his agent afterwards), Lou Hedley was signed by the Chiefs and Andrus Peat went unsigned.

2024 NFL Draft

At the top of my draft board for this year was LSU quarterback and Heisman winner Jayden Daniels. It was going to take some work to get him though, as every mock draft released by the game leading up to the draft had him not getting past the Denver Broncos at 12.

Even teams like the Atlanta Falcons at 8 were projected to take a QB, so if #2 ranked QB Drake Maye was not around by then Daniels might not get out of the top 10.

The Chicago Bears elect not to trade out of the top spot, and also decide not to go with QB Caleb Williams, instead opting to keep building around Justin Fields by taking Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison, Jr. #1 overall. The Washington Commanders take Williams 2nd, and then the first surprise of the draft happens when the Patriots take Drake Maye 3rd. The Pats signed Baker Mayfield in the offseason but still take a QB, meaning Jayden Daniels is now the best QB on the board with two QB needy teams ahead of us.

This forced me to try and trade into the top 7, and fortunately a trade is reached with the New York Giants to move all the way up to the 7th pick with Daniels still on the board, jumping one spot ahead of the Falcons and even doing so without having to give up the 15th overall pick (yes we had the 15th overall pick here and not the 14th like we do in real life, thank you to Madden for not understanding tiebreakers).

I had to give up a haul to do so including the next two years first round picks, but hey, we’ve been kicking the can down the road for the past seven years so why stop now.

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels becomes a Saint with the #7 overall pick.

The Falcons take a pass rusher, and the Broncos take Washington QB Michael Penix, Jr. at #12. The Bears take UGA tight end Brock Bowers to go with Harrison, Jr. and Fields.

Daniels’ top WR Malik Nabers is still on the board at #15, as is Washington WR Rome Odunze, but I need to give Daniels some protection and instead elect to draft Notre Dame LT Joe Alt 15th overall. Alt was projected to be a top 8 pick but fell to 15, so let's hope the rest of the league doesn’t know something I don’t. Nabers goes to the Eagles at 22 and Odunze to the Bills at 29.

The rest of the draft goes like this:

  • 2nd round, 44th overall - Clemson MLB Jeremiah Trotter Jr.
  • 4th round, 122nd overall - Miami SS James Williams
  • 5th round, 143rd overall - Florida WR Ricky Pearsall
  • UDFA - Southern Miss RB Frank Gore Jr.
Your 2024 draft class

Now at the end of the offseason, the team has improved from an 81 overall to an 83, and the Week 1 starting lineup looks like this:

Also while I was at it, I upgraded the parking, bathrooms, and seating in the Superdome. Money isn’t going to spend itself, might as well buy some new toilets.

Regular Season

I elect to switch to a 3-4 defense rather than the 4-3 we have been playing the last few years, as I want Zack Baun rushing the passer and feel rookie Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. should start next to Demario Davis. Entering the regular season I also decide to start Derek Carr for the first few games until Daniels’ passing attributes improve just a bit. Each game was supersimmed rather than me playing for the team, because that would be way too time consuming and also we would go 17-0 and that isn’t fun.

The 2024 season plays out as follows:

  • Week 1 vs. Commanders - Saints win 31-26; Derek Carr throws for 133 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT, while Kendre Miller rushes a whopping 25 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, while Alvin Kamara runs for 108 yards and a touchdown. Michael Thomas and rookie Ricky Pearsall each catch a touchdown, but we unfortunately lose starting DT Bryan Bresee for seven weeks due to a dislocated elbow. Record: 1-0
  • Week 2 vs. Falcons - Saints win 20-17; Kamara runs for 69 yards and 1 TD on 17 carries while Paulson Adebo picks off Desmond Ridder twice. The Falcons were down 17-3 in the 4th quarter but manage to tie the game. They leave too much time for Derek Carr to drive the team down the field and Blake Grupe kicks a game winning field goal as time expires. Record: 2-0
  • Week 3 @ Buccaneers - Saints win 17-14; Cam Jordan has a 3-sack game and Tyrann Mathieu has a game winning interception as the Saints hold the Dennis Allen-Zach Wilson offense down. Kamara looks like he is going to have a great season as he rushes 17 times for 79 yards and a score. We lose another starter on defense however as Pete Werner is out six weeks with a dislocated knee. Record: 3-0
Honey Badger shuts the door on the Dennis Allen offense
  • Week 4 @ Panthers - Saints lose 13-20; Derek Carr throws for just 106 yards and Kamara is held to just 39 yards as the stout Panthers defense dominates. With the offense struggling the last three weeks and it now finally resulting in a loss, I decide the time is right for Jayden Daniels to be named the starter. Record: 3-1
  • Week 5 vs. Broncos - Saints lose 28-31 (OT); Jayden Daniels’ debut does not go as planned as the 0-4 Broncos escape the Superdome with a win. Daniels manages to lead back-to-back touchdown drives in the 4th quarter to force overtime but is sacked for a loss of 8 on the Saints opening drive of OT which forces a punt. Denver then drives for the winning field goal. This game left some wondering if we drafted the wrong QB, as #12 pick Michael Penix, Jr. throws for 352 yards and 4 TDs. Record: 3-2
  • Week 6 @ Chargers - Saints win 21-17; Aiming to stay above .500, the Saints quickly fall into a 17-0 hole in the first half against Justin Herbert and the 4-1 Chargers. Jayden Daniels has just three completions at halftime but catches fire in the second half as the Saints storm back and score 21 unanswered points. Daniels hits Kendre Miller for the winning touchdown with just over a minute left while completing 14 of 16 passes for 213 yards and 3 TDs which results in a perfect passer rating. Chris Olave catches 5 balls for 126 yards and 2 TDs. The injury bug bites again though, as WR Rashid Shaheed is lost for the season. Record: 4-2
The first 4th quarter comeback of Jayden Daniels’ career has social media in flames
  • Week 7 @ Packers - Saints lose 14-28; This was a rough game for the rookie QB, as Daniels throws for just 108 yards at Lambeau and throws a pick-6 on a potential game-tying drive. Alvin Kamara runs for 97 yards on 22 carries to continue his brilliant season, but the Packers get revenge for us stealing their QB coach and left guard which I know must have burned them. Record: 4-3
  • Week 8 @ Browns - Saints lose 28-34 (OT); The Saints fifth road game in the past six weeks ends in yet another overtime loss. Jayden Daniels has a bounce back game as he throws for 283 yards and 3 TDs, connecting 8 times with rookie Ricky Pearsall for 87 yards and a score. Paulson Adebo is the one to tie the game with a pick-6 of Deshaun Watson with around 4 minutes left in the game. The Browns got the ball first in overtime however and went right down and scored a touchdown. Jayden Daniels is now 1-3 as a starter, time to go back to Carr? Record: 4-4
Should’ve gone for two, man...
  • Week 9 vs. Eagles - Saints win 28-7; The Saints welcome the 6-1 Eagles to the Superdome in what is their best performance of the season in a game we desperately needed to win after dropping three of our last four. Daniels throws for 266 yards and 3 TDs and is named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. Kamara runs for 99 yards while Juwan Johnson catches 9 passes for 112 yards. Record: 5-4

At the midway point of the season, we are currently the 6th seed in the NFC and 1.5 games behind the 6-2 Falcons, who have the league’s top defense. Rookie QB Jayden Daniels has a 10/1 TD/INT ratio and has the 5th highest QB rating in the NFL. Alvin Kamara is the league’s leading rusher by over 100 yards.

  • Week 10 @ Raiders (MNF) - Saints win 21-14; The Saints lone primetime game of the year ends in a victory as Jayden Daniels throws for 257 yards and a TD, Kamara runs for 88 yards and 2 TDs, and Juwan Johnson catches 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Record: 6-4
  • Week 11 vs. Buccaneers - Saints win 42-14; The offense is humming now as Daniels throws 3 touchdown passes and runs for one more and earns his second Offensive Player of the Week award. Kamara runs for 88 yards and a TD and all four starting DBs get an interception. Record 7-4
  • Week 12 vs. Panthers - Saints win 24-13; Kamara and Daniels combine for 114 yards and 3 TDs on the ground as the Saints win their fourth straight headed into the bye. Me and my infinite wisdom realized during this game that Zack Baun hadn’t been playing this whole time thanks to some unknown glitch that also caused Cam Jordan to be playing outside linebacker despite the depth chart having them each in the correct spot. In Baun’s first game in the lineup he gets 3 sacks and wins Defensive Player of the Week. Record: 8-4
  • Week 13 - BYE; The Saints move into first place in the NFC South despite not playing this week thanks to the Falcons losing to the 3-9 Steelers and falling to 7-5.

Let’s check in with how the fans are feeling over the bye week.

Turns out they don’t like the $190.00 Kwon Alexander jerseys on sale in the Pro Shop. Nothing I can do about it though as I really need a 4th yacht this offseason.

  • Week 14 @ Cowboys - Saints win 28-24; The division leading Saints head to Jerry World to meet the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys and MVP Dak Prescott. The game is back and forth all afternoon but trailing 21-24 with 5 minutes left in the game Jayden Daniels leads a 16-play game winning touchdown drive in which he converts three 3rd and 6+’s and throws the winning TD to Chris Olave on 3rd and goal with eight seconds left. Greatness. Record: 9-4
Bye, Cowgirls
  • Week 15 @ Falcons - Saints lose 17-24; This one was close the whole way but the Saints never led. The 7-6 Falcons came into this with the #2 defense in the NFL and it showed, as they held Jayden Daniels to just 122 yards passing. The Falcons burned 8 minutes off the clock on their final drive and hit a field goal to go up 7 with 30 seconds left. The Saints had no timeouts and were unable to score a tying touchdown, snapping their 5-game winning streak. Record: 9-5
  • Week 16 vs. Chiefs - Saints lose 21-31; The Saints defense had no answer for Patrick Mahomes and the 12-2 Chiefs this week as they allow Mahomes to throw for 348 yards and 4 TDs. Meanwhile the Falcons win and improve to 9-6 and a tie for first place in the division. Khalen Saunders scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in this one though so that’s fun. Record: 9-6
  • Week 17 @ Giants - Saints win 21-17; In a heavy snowstorm in MetLife Stadium the Saints needed a win more than ever against a solid 9-6 Giants teams. Jayden Daniels led a touchdown drive that broke a 14-14 tie with 6 minutes left in the game. The Giants scored a field goal on the ensuing drive and the Saints offense responded by going 3-and-out, giving the Giants a chance to win with 2 minutes left. The defense held however, and we escape the Meadowlands with a much-needed win. Elsewhere the Falcons lose and drop to 9-7 meaning the Saints have clinched the NFC South title. Record: 10-6
z--Saints
  • Week 18 vs. Rams - Saints win 34-3; The Rams are not having a good season to say the least, as they roll into the Superdome sporting a 1-15 record. The Saints dominate as expected as Jayden Daniels throws 3 TDs and wins his 3rd Offensive Player of the Week. Record: 11-6

The Saints finish as the 3-seed in the NFC as the NFC South champions. The Falcons had a win and in game against the 4-12 Buccaneers and lost, but still would have made the playoffs if one of the Giants or Seahawks had lost, but both win and the Falcons wind up going from 6-2 to 9-8 and out of the playoffs.

Around the league, Josh Jacobs won the rushing title, CeeDee Lamb led in receiving, and Patrick Mahomes completed 72% of his passes with a 47/4 TD/INT ratio and was named MVP. The Texans and their massive free agent class went 7-9. Jayden Daniels finished as the 5th highest rated QB in the NFL, won Offensive Rookie of the Year and was 7th in MVP voting. Alvin Kamara finished 2nd in the league in rushing and won the NFC’s best RB award.

Eight players wind up being named to the Pro Bowl: Jayden Daniels, Alvin Kamara, Juwan Johnson, Jon Runyan, Erik McCoy, Cameron Jordan, Demario Davis, and Tyrann Mathieu.

Here are the final stats for the entire team:

And here are the final standings in the NFC South and how the Saints offense and defense ranked for the year:

The Rams fire Head Coach Sean McVay after a 1-16 season.

The Buccaneers fire Offensive Coordinator Dennis Allen.

2024 NFL Playoffs

The playoff bracket shaped out like this, with six new teams making the playoffs this year:

Wild Card vs. Seahawks - Saints win 24-21; The Saints jumped out to a 21-0 lead against the Bo Nix led Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs. Seattle would mount a comeback however and make it a 21-14 game in the 4th quarter. Jayden Daniels managed to put together a field goal drive to put the Saints up 10, and while the Seahawks would score a touchdown with 50 seconds left to make it a three-point game, the Saints recovered the onside kick, clinching the franchise's first playoff victory of the post-Brees era. Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara each go for 100+ yards and a touchdown.

Divisional @ Packers - Saints lose 14-21; The 2024 Saints season ends at Lambeau Field as the Packers hang on for a 21-14 win. Jordan Love threw a touchdown pass with five minutes left in the game to take a seven-point lead, and on the Saints two potential game tying drives Jayden Daniels threw an interception with two minutes left and on the next drive was sacked on a 4th and inches that ended the game. Kamara has his second 100+ yard 1 TD game of the playoffs but it was ultimately not enough.

Heartbreaker

The Green Bay Packers would return to the Super Bowl after losing the previous year and go on to win their fifth world title in Super Bowl 59 by a score of 42-30 against the Miami Dolphins. Jordan Love is named MVP after throwing for a perfect passer rating.

Sheesh

So, there we have it, exactly what will happen this offseason and what will happen in the 2024 season for the Saints. What would you have done different? How bad do you think the cap situation is next season? Do you want to see the Saints try and trade up for Jayden Daniels or go in a different direction? Will the Saints upgrade the seating and parking at the real Superdome? Can Coach Prime scout top level talent nationwide for an NFL team while also running a college football program? Only time will answer these pressing questions, but fortunately Madden features an option to automatically sim 10 years into the future, so we will not have to wait that long.


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