Saints’ most “desperate” need so far in the season
By Kristen Wong
No, it’s not the cornerback position. It’s not quarterback, either, since Jameis Winston has been achieving passing marks in recent games. The New Orleans Saints need to trade for — wait for it — a wide receiver as soon as possible in 2021.
Are you the least bit surprised?
Chris Roling of Bleacher Report recently revealed a list of what each NFL team needs to trade for, and for the Saints, the wideout room needs a player upgrade.
"The New Orleans Saints didn’t do much before the season to hide the fact that wideout would be a problem for the offense…Still, with Michael Thomas out and likely rusty when he returns, the Saints should look to make a move."
The Saints didn’t do much to hide that fact likely because they wanted to reinforce faith in their current wide receivers at the time, which included Tre’Quan Smith.
Through five games this season, their choices have come back to bite them in the rear. New Orleans’ leaders in receiving yards are undrafted wideouts with high upside, but they’ve generated hit-or-miss production that makes it difficult for a fledgling Saints passing offense to find its identity.
Deonte Harris leads with 236 receiving yards averaging 19.7 yards per catch, and Marquez Callaway follows with 222 receiving yards averaging 12.2 yards per catch. Their averages are inflated by long plays (Harris had a 72-yarder, Callaway a 59-yarder), and what their numbers don’t tell you is how inconsistent each receiver has been week after week.
New Orleans Saints No. 1 need this season is improving wide receiver room
This is a passing offense that gained just 80 yards in the air all game against Carolina in Week 2 but gained 271 yards in the air against Washington on Sunday. While that suggests the Saints are trending upward in the passing games, it also means that the more work they give Winston, the more work the receivers get in turn.
And as it stands, the WR room simply isn’t equipped to handle a heftier load.
Behind Harris and Callaway stands Alvin Kamara who has yet to make much of a dent in the passing game, and as for the fourth-highest in receiving yardage, Juwan Johnson and Adam Trautman are tied for 64 yards each.
Bleacher Report believes the Saints’ WR woes could be aided by this wideout on the market:
"Pittsburgh’s James Washington, a second-rounder in 2018, is a high-upside target worth sending a mid-round pick for right now. He’s not getting looks in three-wideout sets unless another player misses time and had trade buzz around him in August."
Washington joins that long, imaginary list of wide receivers the Saints could trade for in theory, but we don’t think Sean Payton himself is “desperate” enough to give the green light.
Travis Fulgham, Andy Isabella, Washington, and others would be able to slide into WR3 almost immediately and probably make a bigger impact on the field than the rest of New Orleans’ receiving depth chart: Montgomery, Hogan, Stills, Humphrey. Names that you don’t see on the stat sheet or on SportsCenter because they haven’t yet found any semblance of in-season form.
Do the Saints need a wide receiver this season? Desperately. Will they wait until Tre’Quan Smith and Michael Thomas return from injury? Most likely. Could their continued passivity toward the position jeopardize their division-winning and Super Bowl contending hopes? You tell us.