Debate the New Orleans Saints’ offseason needs in The Football Fan Forum
The Saints won the Super Bowl last year, and they stayed relatively pat this offseason. So why aren’t they the favorites going into this year in my mind? Well, the first reason is that they won the Super Bowl last year. Repeating in sports is getting harder and harder to do. Last time it happened in the NHL, 1997-1998, last time in the NBA 2001-2002, last time in the 1999-2000, last time it happened in the NFL 2004-2005. It’s just not something that happens very often in sports, even when teams stand pat after winning a Super Bowl. Whatever reason, the players don’t try as hard because the already have a ring, they didn’t put in the work in the offseason because they got cocky after winning a title, they won’t sneak up on anyone, the entire league spend the entire offseason building their team to matchup to defeat them, we just don’t see repeat titles as much as you’d expect.
Another reason, they did lose some players. Mike Bell was a solid #2 back that took the pressure off of Pierre Thomas and his dangerous running style. Thomas will have to take on more of a load this year and with the way he runs, that could mean injuries, which means a struggling running game. They also lost Scott Fujita, a starter on their defense.
My last reason, I’ve said it before, if you aren’t getting better, you’re getting worse. They didn’t sign any big free agents. Their biggest free agent addition may have been Alex Brown. They drafted a cornerback in the first round. Cornerback was not a position of immediate need so 1st round pick Patrick Robinson probably won’t see a lot of the field this year, unless there are injuries to the top 3 guys on the depth chart, in which case they have other issues. Charles Brown was drafted in the 2nd to be their franchise left tackle of the future, but not of the present. Jimmy Graham was drafted in the 3rd as a tight end of the future. They didn’t draft anyone that’s going to help them in a big way right away. The Colts added Jerry Hughes through the draft, to give themselves more defensive end depth, which, arguably, is why they lost the Super Bowl last year. They didn’t have the depth at defensive end. The Packers will be better this year. The Cowboys will be better this year. The Patriots, barring more injuries to Brady, will be better this year. The Saints, based on their offseason, won’t be.
Now, am I going to project this team to win a ton of games? Yes. Their offense is a machine and they should be good, barring a Madden Curse related injury to Drew Brees, for at least 11 wins this year, likely more.
Projection: 12-4 1st in NFC South
Power Ranking: 4
Last season: 13-3
#32 CB Patrick Robinson (Florida State)
With the way Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter played at cornerback last year, the Saints were already going to have a tough time finding playing time for 2009 1st round pick Malcolm Jenkins, who may have had to move to free safety already. Now, they bring in another cornerback in the first? What? Besides, I had a 3rd round grade on Robinson, though I am aware that others felt differently.
#64 OT Charles Brown (USC)
If the Saints had drafted him at 32, I probably would have given this a pretty solid grade. Jamaal Brown is a free agent next offseason and is probably trade bait now. There is no reason Brown (Charles) should have fallen out of the 1st round and he’ll be able to take over for Brown (Jamaal) when they need him.
#95 TE Jimmy Graham (Miami)
Jeremy Shockey is getting old and has always been injury prone, but Graham is a risk in the 3rd, even for a Super Bowl winning team like the Saints. I would have liked to have seen them take a defensive lineman in the first 3 rounds.
#123 DT Al Woods (LSU)
Woods fills a position of need at defensive tackle, but he has injury concerns and was a bit of a reach. I doubt he’ll be a future starter for this team.
#158 C Matt Tennant (Boston College)
Jonathan Goodwin is a mediocre center so competition like Tennant in the 5th round makes a lot of sense.
#239 QB Sean Canfield (Oregon State)
Canfield is a good pick in the 7th in terms of value and the Saints needed a replacement for Mark Burnell at backup quarterback.
The Saints only had 6 picks, but they still only managed to get 1 future starter out of this draft, two if Tennant pans out, but he’s a center. Patrick Robinson has bust written all over him, if he can ever get on the field. Graham and Woods are very big risks, even for this team. They made some decent late round picks, but overall this was a bit of a disappointing draft. They didn’t get enough help for their defensive line or their linebackers.
Key undrafted free agents:
CB Rafael Priest (TCU)
S Harry Coleman (LSU)
DT Jay Ross (East Carolina)
DT Ekom Udofia (Stanford)
G Brandon Carter (Texas Tech)
DE Brandon Sharper (Texas Tech)
DE George Johnson (Rutgers)
OLB Jason Beauchamp (UNLV)
Positions of need:
Neither Scott Shanle nor Scott Fujita are very good and both could be upgraded. With no other major needs, I would be very surprised if they passed on Sean Weatherspoon at 32 in the first and then went for a strong side guy like AJ Edds or Perry Riley in the mid rounds.
Signed Clint Ingram
Sedrick Ellis is a great young player, but when he was hurt for a little bit last year, their lack of depth at the position was obvious and teams had no problem running up the middle on them. Even when he’s healthy, they could use an upgrade next to him. They don’t have a ton of needs (and they won the Super Bowl, go figure), so they could look for a defensive tackle in the first 3 rounds. Which they draft depends on how they view Ellis going forward, as a 4-3 nose tackle guy or a 4-3 under tackle. They will take the opposite of whatever they view Ellis as.
Drafted Al Woods (#123)
Charles Grant and his massive gut and massive contract have been cut, so they need a replacement at left end. Will Smith is excellent, but they need someone better across from him and if they feel they don’t have someone capable of doing that on the roster, they’ll look for one in the draft early or look for a free agent.
Signed Alex Brown, signed Jimmy Wilkerson
Jamaal Brown is an amazing left tackle, actually one of the best in the league, but he missed most of last season with an injury and you never know how he’ll bounce back. Jermon Bushrod wasn’t awful in place of Brown, but he did give up 8 sacks. In fact, left tackle was probably the one weak spot on their entire offense last year so they could use some depth at the position, maybe a swing guy who can play some right as well where they need depth.
Drafted Charles Brown (#64)
Darren Sharper could be gone as a free agent and even if he isn’t, he’s definitely getting up there in years. I’m assuming their longterm plan with Malcolm Jenkins is to move him to cornerback (considering they spent the 14th pick on him last year) and with both Jenkins and Sharper gone from the free safety position, they won’t have much left. At the very least, they need some depth at the position.
Jonathan Goodwin is average at best. He could be upgraded and if they like a center prospect in the mid rounds, I think they’ll pull the trigger.
Drafted Matt Tennant (#158)
QB Mark Brunell- signed with Jets
RB Pierre Thomas (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.6 million
RB Mike Bell (restricted)- signed with Eagles 1 year 1.7 million
FB Jason McKie
WR Lance Moore (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million
WR Courtney Roby (restricted)- resigned 1 year
TE David Thomas (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.1 million
TE Billy Miller
TE Darnell Dinkins
TE Dan Campbell
OT Jamaal Brown (restricted)- traded to Washington
OT Jermon Bushrod (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.6 million
OT Zach Strief (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.7 million
G Jahri Evans (restricted)- resigned 7 years 57 million
G Jamar Nesbit
DT Kendrick Clancy
DT Remi Ayodele (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.1 million
DE Charles Grant- signed with Dolphins 1 year
DE Jeff Charleston (restricted)- tendered (low)
DE Bobby McCray- resigned
DE Anthony Hargrove (restricted)- resigned 1 year 1.2 million
OLB Scott Fujita- signed with Browns 3 years 14 million
MLB Marvin Mitchell (restricted)- 1 year
MLB Mark Simoneau
CB Leigh Torrence (restricted)- resigned 1 year
#7 S Darren Sharper- resigned 1 year 1.5 million
A smart veteran with a ring and a ton of experience, he turned the Saints’ defense around by himself this year (with some help). He led the league with 9 picks and averaged 41.8 yards per interception return and even scored 3 times by himself. He’s a ballhawk, but he’s also amazing in coverage. He would be an upgrade to any defense, the only issue is, for how long? Sharper turns 35 next season and I’d be concerned about giving him more than a 2 year deal.
S Roman Harper (restricted)- resigned 1 year 2.5 million
S Usama Young (restricted)- tendered
S Pierson Prioleau- resigned
S Chris Reis (restricted)- tendered
K Garrett Hartley (restricted)
# refers to Unrestricted Free Agent Rank
Saints sign WR Mark Bradley
Saints sign QB Patrick Ramsey
Saints cut FB Jason McKie
Saints re-sign DE Bobby McCray
Saints cut DE Bobby McCray
Saints re-sign WR Lance Moore
Saints re-sign S Roman Harper
Saints re-sign RB Pierre Thomas
Saints sign FB Jason McKie
Saints sign OLB Clint Ingram
Saints cut DT Rodney Leisle
Saints waive OLB Jason Beauchamp
Saints re-sign G Jahri Evans
Saints claim RB P.J. Hill
Saints re-sign S Darren Sharper
Saints sign DE Jimmy Wilkerson
Saints re-sign WR Courtney Roby
Saints re-sign MLB Marvin Mitchell
Saints announce retirement of RB Aaron Stecker
Saints re-sign TE David Thomas
Saints re-sign DT Remi Ayodele
Saints re-sign OT Jermon Bushrod
Saints re-sign OT Zach Strief
Saints sign DE Alex Brown
Saints re-sign CB Leigh Torrence
Saints re-sign S Pierson Prioleau
Saints cut DE Charles Grant
Saints cut G Jamar Nesbit
Saints cut MLB Mark Simoneau
Saints tender G Jahri Evans
Saints tender DE Jeff Charleston
Saints tender RB Mike Bell
Saints tender DT Remi Ayodele
Saints tender OT Jammal Brown
Saints tender S Chris Reis
Saints tender MLB Marvin Mitchell
Saints tender WR Lance Moore
Saints tender KR Courtney Roby
Saints tender TE David Thomas
Saints tender RB Pierre Thomas
Saints tender S Roman Harper
Saints tender OT Jermon Bushrod
Saints tender S Usama Young
Saints tender OT Zach Strief