Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) huddles the offense against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Needs: OL, WR, RB
To kick things off on offense, let’s be clear about one thing: the Saints’ biggest offseason move is locking up tight end Jimmy Graham with a long-term deal. For all intents and purposes, he pretty much is their offense outside of Brees, so they need to pay the guy and be done with it.
After that, the Saints need to make sure the protection stays at a high level, while they might want to consider adding some more bodies to help improve their guard rotation. Brian De La Puente and Zach Srief are both free agents, though, making center and right tackle their top priorities on the offensive line, respectively. As stated, the Saints could also use guard depth, but these two areas are the most pressing.
Ideally, New Orleans simply brings them both back and adds depth pieces as they move along in this year’s draft. If they can’t, however, these areas rise to the top of their team needs. Obviously the Saints can try to get cheaper options in free agency, but either way they may want to consider adding help at these spots via the draft. I don’t see them doing so in the first round, however, but if versatile guys like David Yankey or Zack Martin can slip to round two, the Saints should consider them.
As necessary as keeping the o-line productive is, it’s boring to think about. Let’s get to a position that is both sexy and also could use an injection of talent: wide receiver.
Robert Meachem shouldn’t be brought back, while Marques Colston and Lance Moore started to show their age in 2013. Neither is particularly explosive and beyond them all the Saints have is Kenny Stills (still one-dimensional), Nick Toon and Joseph Morgan (knee surgery). They could use another guy to increase competition and potentially make one of these guys expendable, as well. I doubt they chase a receiver down in the first, so guys like Odell Thurman or Davante Adams could be worth a look if they last long enough in round two. In that same breath, it’ll be fairly tempting if Florida State phenom Kelvin Benjamin slides to the Saints in round one.
Last up is running back. Mark Ingram had a small revival in the playoffs, but I’m not sold on him as the long-term solution, and I doubt the Saints are, either. Darren Sproles is starting to show his age a bit, too, while Pierre Thomas can’t be expected to be the main guy. New Orleans has done a fine job rolling with the committee approach, so I’m not sure they need to make a splash with a first rounder or even a second rounder again. However, if a guy like De’Anthony Thomas can slide to the third or fourth, they may see him as a potential replacement for Sproles down the road. If the Saints want to make a move in free agency, they could cut Ingram or Thomas and bring in former Giants running back Andre Brown. He’s a better natural talent and would arguably be a more stable option.