The New Orleans Saints have a lot of needs this offseason, but nothing is more important than the quarterback. Despite entering the season with Jameis Winston under center, Andy Dalton spent the majority of the season as the Saints starter. Now that he’s set to hit free agency, should the team bring him back as a bridge quarterback?
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Should the Saints Re-Sign Free Agent Andy Dalton?
Why They Should
Andy Dalton might not be the long-term solution for the Saints quarterback woes, but he wasn’t the problem with the 2022 New Orleans Saints. Appearing and starting in 14 games, the longtime Bengal finished the season with a 6-8 record, completing 66.7% of his passes for 2,871 yards, 18 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
The quarterback finished the season with an 82.1 Pro Football Focus grade, good for the seventh-best mark amongst 39 eligible quarterbacks. Now, it should be noted that PFF’s grading process rewards “safe” choices and isn’t the best at determining when quarterbacks need to be more aggressive. In this case, EPA/play paints a better picture of Dalton’s play, but his 0.042 EPA/play still ranked 20th among 31 eligible passers.
Even at his peak, Dalton was never able to elevate his supporting cast, and his physical tools have dropped off a bit since his heyday. However, he can still execute an NFL offense, and that base level of competency carries some value for the Saints. With Jameis Winston likely to be cut, no first-round draft picks to speak of, and sitting $57 million over the salary cap, the Saints don’t have too many avenues to improve the quarterback position. As depressing as it sounds, Andy Dalton already knows the offense, won’t cost too much and might be the best realistic option available for the Saints.
ANDY DALTON TO CHRIS OLAVE 🎯
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 20, 2022
Why They Shouldn’t
Going into a season with Andy Dalton as your starting quarterback in the year 2023 is one of the most depressing things you can do. As mentioned earlier, even at his peak, Dalton was only as good as the pieces around him. The New Orleans Saints have a few good players, but by and large, this is a flawed roster led by a coach that might not survive another disappointing season. If Dalton plays all 17 games, the best-case scenario for this team is an eight-win season.
The Saints don’t have the resources to fix their entire roster in one offseason, but they need to find a way to do something about the quarterback. The right passer is capable of covering up a significant number of holes on the roster, and the Saints need to try something to get a guy like that. In a perfect world, they’ll be able to trade Sean Payton for a first-round pick, and use that pick to find their quarterback of the future.
If, however, they can’t trade Payton, then they’re in trouble. The Saints don’t have a first-round pick, but they’ll need to use one of their Day 2 picks on the best quarterback left on the board. The draft is an inexact science, so the Saints will need to swing for the fences and hope they get lucky. Or, if they really don’t like those prospects, they can also try and swing a trade for Trey Lance.
It’s fine if the Saints re-sign Dalton to be a bridge quarterback. However, he can’t be the only option for 2023. No matter what, New Orleans needs to add a young passer in the NFL Draft and hope that he’s ready to take the job from Dalton sooner rather than later.
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