The New Orleans Saints franchise finally has a Lombardi Trophy to call their own after a 43 year hiatus, winning Super Bowl XLIV decidedly over the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.
New Orleans has successfully scrubbed away the label of a “perpetually struggling” franchise and erased its name from the dubious list of teams never to have won a Super Bowl, distancing itself from the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills.
Quarterback Drew Brees has finally found the elusive last piece to a hopeful Hall of Fame career with the win only validating his status as an elite NFL quarterback.
So where do they go from here?
Surely the Saints would like nothing more than to repeat as Super Bowl champions next season, a feat rarely seen in modern football that has only been accomplished four times since 1990.
With the possibility of an un-capped season looming on the horizon, which greatly affects free agency, the Saints have a number of players that could potentially hit the market.
Free safety Darren Sharper is the most notable of the free agents and the possibility exists that he may have played himself out of New Orleans after a superb season where he totaled nine interceptions, three defensive touchdowns all while setting a new NFL record for return yards with 376.
If Sharper is drawn away that would leave backup Usama Young as the starting free safety for the Saints next season. Young is a promising talent for sure but just recently made the switch from corner to safety this off-season and is still learning the ropes.
Then there is defense coordinator Gregg Williams who was signed before the start of the season to re-vamp what had been a struggling unit over the past few years under then DC Gary Gibbs.
Williams was able to turn the Saints defense around with a few key additions in free agency, enough so that the defense was at or near number one in takeaways for the entirety of the season.
So far no other team has come out of the wood work declaring they have any interest in Williams but in usual NFL fashion teams wait until the play-offs and Super Bowl are over to pursue a coach.
There is certainly no indication that Williams has any desire to leave the Saints franchise for another squad, Sharper as well seems content in a black and gold uniform, but only time will tell for sure.
With all this being said the Saints will surely do everything in their power to keep both as Saints.
Assuming the primary focus is to keep primary players and coaches on board from there they will shift the focus to the draft.
Most likely they will target defensive players in an effort to continue adding play makers to the unit and flesh out Williams aggressive scheme.
A glaring need for the defensive for some time has been outside linebacker and most recently the defensive line, the depth of which was tested severely throughout the season.
It’s doubtful that starting linebacker Scott Fujita will return next season and highly unlikely starting defensive end Charles Grant will either, two key positions in the Saints variable 4-3 scheme.
Whatever the Saints do from here will surely be under the microscope, as all Super Bowl champs are year in and year out. The Saint have the tools and talent to repeat barring a successful draft and off-season program, but however you look at it the franchise is definitely looking up.
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