Five Moves the New Orleans Saints Should Make this Off-Season
No offense to the Eagles, but without that mind-blowing Stefon Diggs catch that led the Vikings to the NFC championship, we may be talking about that amazing Super Bowl between the Saints and the Patriots right now. These New Orleans Saints have as much talent as the best of them in the NFC and they have to feel good about the potential for 2018. With Drew Brees in restricted free agency, let’s examine a few moves the Saints could make to reposition themselves for the big game.
1. Re-Sign Free Agents Drew Brees and Alex Okafor
If you were starting a team tomorrow, Drew Brees is not the Saints player you’d pick to build around, but that’s entirely because of his age. At 39, Brees might seem like a liability.on paper, but the 2017 season was arguably his best ever. He had the second highest passer rating in the league at 103.9 and his 72% completion percentage set the NFL’s all-time single-season record. Re-sign Drew Brees before that March 14th restricted free agency deadline to make head coach Sean Payton, the players, and the city of New Orleans happy.
Meanwhile, Okafor has been the perfect right-hand man for Pro-Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan. He’s never the strongest or fastest end on the field but his awareness and recognition make him a reliable piece on an only newly dependable defensive line.
2. Let Free Agents Willie Snead, Brandon Coleman, Delvin Breaux, and Kenny Vaccaro Go
In terms of the two receivers, Snead and Coleman, you have so much offensive potency that re-signing these guys at around $2 million each is excessive. To pay Brees you have to save money somewhere and this is that somewhere. Play this song by Darondo and part ways.
As far as defense is concerned, Kenny Vaccaro is too hot a free agent to get into a bidding war over. You have Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell in the back field, that should do. Combined with Marshon Lattimore, you’ll have the best defense in the NFC South without Vaccaro and Breaux. Besides, your players are already recruiting for you. Michael Thomas tweeted some love at ex-LSU star Tyrann Matheiu on Wednesday:
Come to the BLOCK. Where all we trying to do is win every game and not get caught up in weirdo stuff.
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike)
If you’re having nightmares about Case Keenum and you’re committed to investing in defense, take a look at Malcolm Butler. The Patriots might be looking to part ways with him after he… did something (do we know yet?) that got him benched for the Super Bowl. He’d compliment your rocking pass defense nicely and force teams to beat you on the ground.
3. Trade for Jarvis Landry
You have the best offensive mind in the NFL at head coach. Stick to your strengths. Lose a few defensive pieces if you have to and go all-in, Steelers-style, with a trade for Dolphins’ receiver Jarvis Landry. If you give Brees Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., and Jarvis Landry to throw to, you’ll average 30+ points per game next season. Put the onus on the opponent and insist you’ll only be beaten by a high-scoring offense – few and far between in the NFC. What you trade for Landry is wide open as long as Brees, Thomas, Kamara, and Jordan stay put.
4. Draft a Tight End
The Saints need some third down help after converting only 37.6% of them last season, 19th in the league. Luckily, this is a deep draft for tight ends and one of them in particular would make a great fit. Hayden Hurst from South Carolina is committed to run blocking – perfect for Sean Payton’s rush-heavy game plan – without sacrificing catching ability, so he could elevate the Saints’ tight end production without changing their identity. Otherwise, small school prospect Dallas Goedert from South Dakota State would be an excellent catch-first option to compliment Coby Fleener in those short pass third down situations.
5. Throw Zach Strief the Biggest Party in Saints’ Retirement History
He spent 12 years in New Orleans and participated in the 2009 championship win, and on Wednesday it was reported that Zach Strief would likely be retiring from the league. Set the tone for your younger guys who will find themselves choosing between a career with the Saints and a lucrative free agency in the near future. (I’m talking about Alvin Kamara.) Let them know what it means to you that they gift their talents to your franchise long-term.
And how much does it mean? You hired Big Freedia to perform, that’s how much. Lil Wayne and Wynton Marsalis stop by for a collaborative number. Catering by Willie Mae’s. In the next few years, there will be a bigger party when Brees retires, but let’s see if we can’t win a Super Bowl first.
(Cropped image courtesy of Phil Roeder via Flickr.)