Do the New Orleans Saints need a veteran wide receiver?


For the New Orleans Saints, filling the voids on offense left by the departures of Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills are not going to be easy. On one hand, we can feel somewhat safe with the Saints having a multitude of draft picks when the NFL Draft kicks off at the end of April.

On the other hand, there are merits to the claims of uncertainty as to what the 2015 roster will look like, and who will be the ones to fill the voids for respective players’ absences on both sides of the ball.

Arguably, there is no bigger question mark on the Saints offense than the wide receiver position right now.

Of the wide receivers on the New Orleans Saints roster not named Marques ColstonNick Toon is the most tenured wide receiver the team has. He’s entering his fourth season with the black and gold, and his overall results have been underwhelming.

Beyond Toon, and Andy Tanner (who is still around), there’s a host of second year players: Brandon Coleman, Seantavius Jones, Brandin Cooks, Jalen Saunders, and Willie Snead. Are you starting to feel a bit nervous?

Naturally, Brandin Cooks figures to take on an expanded role in the offense next season, and we could very well see Toon as the team’s second option. Cooks is primed for a breakout season, and destined for greatness.

The latest figures peg the Saints at an estimated $2.89 million under the league’s salary cap. As it stands, that’s not enough to sign rookies, and we’re not even factoring in the contract from running back C.J. Spiller.

Of the available free agents left on the market, it’s extremely difficult to suggest that the Saints would pursue a player like Michael Crabtree, even with his ties to wide receivers coach John Morton. Under Morton in 2012, Crabtree would become the first San Francisco 49ers receiver to eclipse 1,000 yards in nearly a decade (2003). Crabtree doesn’t bring the best of attitudes to the table, so it doesn’t necessarily fit what the Saints are trying to accomplish in the locker room. Although, I do think practices would be funny seeing him and Brandon Browner go at it.

Needless to say, the upside is there in the coaching department for the younger receivers.

In my five free agents the Saints should pursue article, I was particularly high on a player like Cecil Shorts. While he’s since signed with the Houston Texans, there are still players like him that could come relatively cheap, and provide some experience for the New Orleans Saints receiving corps. I believe that a younger receiver brought in on a ‘prove it’ type of deal bodes well for the team. Monetarily speaking, it wouldn’t be a strenuous decision for the Saints.

Outside of Crabtree, the pickings are slim. There’s moderate to high-profile veterans like Dwayne Bowe, Hakeem Nicks, Greg Jennings, Reggie Wayne, and Miles Austin. There’s also two former Saints looming out there, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore.

For me, I’m still looking in the direction of a player like Denarius Moore. I’ve long talked about his lack of success in Oakland, and I primarily chalk that up to the system and inexperience at quarterback. At 26, Moore certainly has a lot to offer, and would be a nice fit inside the Saints scheme as a deep threat.

Some other names to consider, if the Saints do choose to go this route, are Greg Little (Bengals), Vincent Brown (Chargers), or Jarrett Boykin (Packers). Ultimately, these are high risk/reward players. It wouldn’t be entirely out of the question to see these guys brought in for workouts if they don’t find homes during the draft. We saw the Saints bring in veterans Patrick Crayton and Steve Breaston last year during training camp, and although they didn’t pan out, it is still worth noting that the team would look in that direction.

The NFL Draft does possess a considerable amount of talent in the wide receiver class. By my count, there’s roughly eighteen receivers that could be selected in the first three rounds. That’s how good the draft is. It’s not every day that you get that type of talent, but it still leaves the Saints looking at a very young, raw, and inexperienced crew at receiver. My colleagues have done a great job of looking at potential talent through the draft, so be sure to check out a few articles related to what is out there.

Naturally, any future moves in free agency and beyond with the New Orleans Saints will be largely dictated by their ability to generate cap space. As of today, their two biggest question marks remain in guard Jahri Evans ($11 million) and defensive end Cam Jordan ($6.96 million).

What do you think is the best course of action for the black and gold? Would you like to see a reunion with Lance Moore? Do you feel comfortable with what we have?

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