by mayne41event 1 week ago
By Donovan Simmons | @RZDSimmons | 3/13/2023
Hello RedZone!!! It’s been quite a long time since we have spoken. But not to worry, all is well on my end. As for your New Orleans Saints, it’s a much different story. S81 was one of the longest seasons for me to cover in my time here. And if it was long for me, imagine how draining it must have been for Coach Mayne, his staff and the players.
With the end of every season, the offseason brings forth all of the hope and optimism for a team and fanbase to see if a team is going to continue their winning ways. Or will an unknown team emerge as a new division winner and make a deep run in the S82 playoffs.
Now, if we must, let’s look back to how S81 played out for your NO Saints.
Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball. Two players had breakout/career years. DE Payton Turner logged 16.5 sacks, which was 2nd in the league among DE’s, which landed him on the Pro Bowl team. Will he be able to duplicate that production? The other breakout was CB Alonte Taylor. He also found himself named to the Pro Bowl after leading the team with 7 INTs and 41 tackles. The defense as a whole finished in the top 15 in all yardage categories. The one area of improvement, they finished 22nd in points against. The defense can only do so much if the offense is not staying on the field.
And speaking of the offense... It was a long hard road for that side of the ball. They ranked 20th or lower in all offensive categories. Alvin Kamara finished with 1,500 all purpose yds and 12 total TDS, but there was little help outside of that. And it starts at the QB position. Winston took the reins after Jimmy G left in free agency. He only managed 3,300 passing yds, 18TDs and 22INTs and completing only 55% of passes. Having a competent passing attack is paramount, especially when teams start to stack the box vs the run and Winston simply had no answer.
All in all, the Saints finished with a 6-11 record. And a number of questions to be answered this offseason. How would Coach Mayne and company get this team back on track? With limited cap, only 4 draft picks scheduled and numerous big money deals due to be paid out, a number of tough decisions needed to be made. Let’s get to the exiting players first.
The first major move was sending CB Marshon Lattimore to LAC for Asante Samuel Jr. and a first and second rd pick this year. Latt underperformed as a CB1 the past 2 seasons and the brass felt a change of scenery was needed.
A number of cap casualties were next. G Andrus Peat, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, CB Bradley Roby and SS Marcus Maye were among the major names. MLB Demario Davis was also among the ones cut, but it essentially was a restructuring of his deal. He resigned with the team on a 1yr $5.5 mil deal.
Now with new available cap space and a few extra picks, lets see how they have filled out this through 2 phases of free agency.
The Saints turned the pick from LAC (1.26) into RB Eli Mitchell and LB Dre Greenlaw from the 49ers. Both will be due new deals at seasons end, but both are expected to resign with the team.
The Saints were big spenders this offseason. T Jedrick Wills, RB Cam Akers, TE Cj Uzomah and WRs Kj Osborn and Chase Claypool were the big money signings. Defensively, CBs Ahkello Witherspoon and Dane Jackson, the aforementioned Demario Davis and DT Poona Ford were the big names there.
Two other trades to mention. The Saints traded back from pick 1.11 to 1.15 w/ PIT. They also received a current 3rd and a future 4th round pick. And the Saints sent a future 3rd to the Bears for WR Velus Jones.
A lot of moving and shaking. But it looks like the Saints are done with their spending now and have turned their focus on the draft. Here are the Saints selections for Tuesday night's draft.
Unless the plan is to start the season with Taysom Hill or rookie last year Bryce Ross, you’d have to think that a QB will be high on the team's needs list if not at the time. Will there be a QB they are coveting there at pick 15 in the first, time will tell. Outside of that, I feel that LB will be a place of need and also Safety. Davis and Mathieu are both due deals after the season and unless the numbers are right, I can’t see either player returning to the bayou.
I’ll be back on Wednesday with my breakdown of the selections from draft night and by weeks end, out Final 53 article getting you ready for the beginning of S82.
Follow me @RZDSimmons on Twitter all season long for Saints coverage. And check out the team page at daddyleagues.com/redzone/team/NO