The New Orleans Saints biggest free agency needs come down to specific positions. The Saints have won over 10 games each season for the last four years. This is because the Saints have had playmakers across the field. But the salary cap is an issue though. The Saints are one of many teams who have had to trim down their roster recently. Between losing players to free agency and cuts, the Saints are left with many positions to address this off-season.
New Orleans Saints Free Agency Needs by Position
Each side of the ball for the Saints has holes to fill. The NFL free agency period starts March 17 and the Saints being able to sign players will be very tricky. The salary cap dropped this season. That drop is leading to the releasing of many veteran players. Some veteran players will have to take short-term, minimal deals in order to sign with a team this off-season. Luckily, the Saints do not have as many positions to address as some other teams. Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton have always found ways to sign players as evidenced by last season’s signing of Emmanuel Sanders. Below is a look at the Saints free agency needs this off-season.
Saints Offensive Needs
Drew Brees has still not publicly announced whether he is retiring or returning for another season. Internally, the Saints could know the status of Brees’ future, but nothing has been formerly reported at this point. With his contract restructuring and the rumors, it is likely that he retires. That would mean the Saints would need a new starting quarterback. Seeing several starts from Taysom Hill last year did not seem to convince anyone that he is capable of being a full time starter. Jameis Winston is now a free agent but Sean Payton has expressed his desire to bring Winston back. The free agency market for quarterbacks isn’t large but without a top draft pick, it might be the only avenue for another quarterback.
The need for another receiver got worse recently. Mostly due to salary cap issues, Emmanuel Sanders is no longer with the Saints. A reliable receiver to pair with Michael Thomas is now a huge need. Tre’Quan Smith has yet to prove himself in the NFL. Marquez Callaway is coming off a rookie season where he had only 27 targets. Ty Montgomery has moved around the league and will have to stay healthy in his second year with the Saints. Even if these players end up being reliable, there is still a section of the field that needs addressing. The Saints need to add a receiver who can stretch the field vertically.
With the departure of Josh Hill and Jared Cook, the Saints find themselves looking for a blocking and all-purpose tight end. Adam Trautman should take over as the primary tight end, but Payton deploys tight ends in various ways in the offense. The need for a tight end could also be affected by the signing of a wide receiver. If the Saints are looking to attack the middle of the field with tight ends, then a pass catcher will be a higher priority than a blocking tight end. It would also not be surprising if Josh Hill finds his way back on the roster.
Saints Defensive Needs
The losses of Kwon Alexander and Alex Anzalone further thin out a shallow linebacker crew. The Saints have been attempting to build the linebacker position the past couple of seasons, but have been unsuccessful. If Alexander was able to stay healthy last season then it is possible the Saints would have gone deeper into the playoffs. Zack Baun was drafted in 2020 but did not see the field much. But Baun will be asked to contribute in 2021. Demario Davis has been fantastic for the Saints but he needs help. Do not be surprised if the Saints look to bring in a veteran linebacker to play alongside Davis.
Sheldon Rankins and Trey Hendrickson are now free agents. Malcolm Brown is being released due to his large contract. This means the Saints are currently thing along the defensive line. Cameron Jordan is still on one side of the line but the other is questionable. Marcus Davenport will have to use the last year of his guaranteed rookie deal to develop into a reliable lineman. He will have his opportunity this season with Hendrickson going into free agency. The interior of the line has more questions than answers. The only positive for the Saints is that defensive tackle price tags this off-season will likely be very low. Edge rushers tend to get the most money in free agency. The Saints will rely on what they have now for this position and possibly address the interior through free agency.
The cornerback position took several hits this off-season for the New Orleans Saints. P.J. Williams and Ken Crawley are now free agents. Janoris Jenkins was a salary cap casualty. Marshon Lattimore is still on the roster and is rumored to be getting a well-deserved extension. Outside of Lattimore though, questions abound at the position. The Saints were already in need of a cornerback who could play the slot. With Jenkins’ release the Saints need to find a player to play opposite of Lattimore. The good news is veteran cornerbacks are plentiful in this year’s market. A slot corner could also fit into the Saints slim salary cap. Finding a cornerback to play opposite of Lattimore might have to be handled in other ways like the NFL draft or a player moving positions.
Saints in Free Agency
Most analysts expect the Saints to be quiet in the free agency market due to their salary cap issues. Closer followers of the Saints know that general manager Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton find ways to sign players they want. The Saints may not be able to fill every need through free agency, but one or two strategic signings will likely occur knowing the history of the Saints in free agency.