I just want to first express that it is extremely gratifying to see the success of New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed. At the start of the season, I was an extreme advocate of him not only being a starter on the team but playing an intricate role in the offense as well. Every year, a few good friends and I make bold predictions on the Saints upcoming season, as I’m sure many in Who Dat Nation do as well. This past season, I happen to put a large amount of stock and belief into the development and production of #22 in black and gold. The undrafted free agent from the 2022 NFL Draft class out of Weber State has now completed his second season in New Orleans and did not disappoint.
Some would say that Shaheed’s start to this past season was a bit shaky, considering he didn’t play a snap in preseason and also fumbled and lost the opening kick of the year (first and only in his career) versus the Tennessee Titans. Conversely, he was also able to score that game’s only touchdown and haul in a clutch 3rd & 6 grab from Derek Carr to seal a 16-15 victory for the Saints. That situation spoke volumes to me, considering you have the established vet Michael Thomas and budding superstar Chris Olave on the field, yet Carr chose to go #22’s way in such a critical moment. He would go on to finish Week One with 5 receptions for 89 yards and the aforementioned TD in addition to 116 return yards.
Shaheed’s opening week performance carried over the next week in Carolina as he was able to capture 4 catches for 63 yards in a 20-17 win for the squad. During the following 5 weeks he would continue to produce and have an effect on some games, but in my opinion, should’ve been more of a focal point within the play-calling/ gameplan. That would come to a head in Week 8 on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, where Shaheed had a season high 153 yards receiving with a TD to go along with 46 return yards, falling 1 yard shy of 200 total yards. This would also mark the highest single game receiving effort for the New Orleans Saints since Michael Thomas’ 182-yard outburst in Week 5 of his record setting 2019 season. Over the remainder of the season, Shaheed would continue to make big plays, produce with the opportunities given as a WR and still contribute immensely as a return man on special teams.
Apparently, the NFL viewed him as valuable as I and some others did by rewarding Shaheed with All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors for his performance during the 2023 season. When recently speaking to media via locker room and being asked personal feelings towards his recognition, Shaheed responded in his consistently humble way by saying: “I never saw myself as a pro bowler and now that it’s here, it’s hard to really explain how I’m feeling. I’m just super blessed.” The talented Saints wideout would finish the year with 46 receptions for 719 yards and five touchdowns in addition to 723 return yards and another TD. Not only were his recent accomplishments far beyond the expectations for an undrafted guy from a smaller school, but the arrow is definitely pointing upwards for “Mr. Need for Speed”. As an avid Saints follower and personal admirer of his, I most importantly look forward to the organization re-signing Rashid and seeing his role continuously expand on the team.