For the New Orleans Saints, what now?
By Terry Kimble
The New Orleans Saints head into the offseason with more questions than answers.
All good things must come to an end. Often they don’t end quite like this. Not with this much heartbreak. Not with this much uncertainty. The New Orleans Saints must again come to grips with the fact that for another season they are just not quite good enough.
They must also face the fact that they may not quite be good enough for the foreseeable future.
More than likely L.A.B. (Life After Brees) begins now. The 42-year-old future Hall of Famer is widely expected to announce his retirement soon. If the reports are true, then every Who Dat supporter from this side of creation onward can only do one thing, say a collective Thank You.
All that Brees has done for this community and franchise cannot simply be quantified in this writing. What can be is what the Saints are going to do moving forward.
Obviously, the onus will be on the Saints’ brain trust to find a new signal-caller. Coach Payton has often said that guy is already in the building. Whether he thinks that person is Taysom Hill or soon to be free agent Jameis Winston is the burning question right now.
Considering the Saints’ salary cap projection being almost 100 million over the cap next season as it stands now, signing a big name starter at QB is probably out of the question. It makes financial sense to re-sign Winston for cheap and let those two duke it out for the starting role.
Speaking on the salary cap, because of the financial crunch this team will have to perform, you can expect the 2021 version to look a little bit different. For starters, the Saints must decide how they will handle the free agency of safety Marcus Williams and edge rusher Trey Hendrickson.
More than likely Hendrickson’s play on the field this past season will award him an expensive contract moving forward. I just can’t see the Saints being able to afford the $20 million he may command in this market.
Marcus Williams may be the key focus here. After being much maligned 3 years ago after the Minnesota Miracle play, Williams has proven himself to be a stud safety in this league.
With Malcolm Jenkins getting a year older the Saints may want to prioritize staying younger and athletic in the secondary. The Saints may also lose defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins as a cap casualty as well.
Then there is the question of how to handle the rookie deals on Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk. Ideally, the Saints would want to extend their deals and not let them see free agency in 2022. Lattimore is a 4-time Pro-Bowl cornerback and Ramczyk may be a top-three guard at his position.
These would be two young cornerstones the Saints would love to keep around for years to come.
Tough decisions await the New Orleans Saints. Tough times, however, may not be there yet.
The Saints will still boast a talented team heading into next season. The choices they make now will determine if they can continue to ride this wave of success or if the reset button will be pressed sooner rather than later.