Breaking news: the New Orleans Saints signed a wide receiver! Not so breaking news: they signed the same guy from last year.
This week, NOLA re-signed wideout Tre’Quan Smith to a two-year, $6 million dollar deal with another $4.5 million available in incentives. On the surface, this seems like a cheap enough contract, but digging deeper reveals it’s quite possibly the lowest-risk deal the Saints could have made for a wide receiver.
Smith’s deal with the Saints gives him $2 million in guaranteed money, which is near the league minimum for someone with his experience. Going this cheap says a lot about what the Saints think of Smith, but perhaps more about what the Saints’ priorities are in 2022.
New Orleans scrounged on wide receivers last offseason, though Michael Thomas did throw them a curveball with his unexpected surgery. Regardless, the team didn’t fortify its receiver room, put forward one of its worst offensive performances in history, and now has the opportunity to rectify its mistakes.
So what do they do? They re-sign Smith.
It’s the same story as 2021, just with a fresh coat of paint.
New Orleans Saints cannot settle on Tre’Quan Smith as their WR2 for 2022
After four years on the Saints, NOLA have to recognize Smith for the player he is, not the player he could be. He’s a physical, occasionally productive pass-catcher with average speed and below-average catching abilities. That’s all.
Ever since he was drafted by New Orleans in the third round of the 2018 draft, his production has been all over the place and he has struggled to establish chemistry with any quarterback despite being given his share of opportunities. If there’s anything consistent about him, it’s his inconsistency — Smith has missed 14 regular season games so far in his career, and his injury history doesn’t bode well for his success in 2022.
Sure, Smith got a little bit of spotlight this free agency and visited Atlanta, but he came back to NOLA on a dirt-cheap “prove it” deal when he very well could have nothing left to prove.
If this is NOLA’s only free agent move at wide receiver, the team is royally screwed this season. It’s about time the Saints started showing some urgency and aggression at filling their receiver room, but the Smith signing showed their same, predictable hand and essentially told the rest of the league: We’re not putting that much effort into improving our offense.
Make a change, take a risk, do something out of the ordinary. Not this.
Bringing back Smith is as bland a move as possible and just sets a defeatist tone for the start of the 2022 season.