Should the Saints be open to drafting a QB?

Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Saints are in a weird position this offseason.

Since the day Drew Brees retired, the Saints have tried to fill his shoes and have come up short each time. They’ve ran through four different starters in one season and are now stuck with Jameis Winston under center.

Winston played in just seven games last season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. The Saints could still mix things up and make a trade for a more established quarterback like Baker Mayfield but don’t appear to be leaning in that direction.

“It was a little bit crazy,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said of the quarterback moves. “We hadn’t been in that market very often, so it was a little different in that there were some guys available via trade. I don’t think that happens every year. Obviously there were some free agents. And look, we love what Jameis has done for us, so we wanted to keep him as well, and yet he was a free agent. So there’s a lot of uncertainty going into this offseason, but I’m happy where we landed.”

Winston’s ability to lead a franchise has yet to be proven.

Are the Saints actually ready to move on from Winston?

If the Saints were all in on Winston, they would have given him a long-term deal. More importantly, they wouldn’t have gone after Deshaun Watson knowing it would damage their public appearance. New Orleans’ run at Watson shows that they aren’t sold on Winston and that they are sold on their team. They want to win now and are willing to accept any criticism as long as it equates to winning.

With that in mind, it would make sense for them to continue to aggressively explore every avenue in the draft.

Getting a quarterback who doesn’t have baggage or even NFL mileage is the best option for New Orleans while they experiment with the Winston era. While Winston tries to prove himself to be a franchise quarterback, the Saints could prepare his replacement.

The Saints made big moves leading to Draft Week, trading the No. 18 overall, a 2023 first-rounder, a 2022 third-rounder and seventh-rounder, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for the No. 16 and No. 19 and a 2022 sixth-round pick.

That leaves New Orleans with two first-round picks, a second-round pick, a third-round pick, and picks in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

If they are set on drafting a quarterback, the Malik Willis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder, and Matt Corral from Ole Miss are possible options that the team can explore. Willis may be gone before the Saints take the board, but the other options will likely be there, as most mock drafts have quarterbacks going later in the draft.

This draft class isn’t being considered a strong quarterback class. The Saints would likely have to groom the QB they draft– letting Winston play out his contract. The best option for this scenario is Willis– though the Saints would have to beat the Carolina Panthers to him.

The Panthers are in desperate need for the QB and have the No. 6 draft pick. New Orleans would need to make another move to beat Carolina to Willis. If the Saints don’t go with Willis, they are in a good spot to get any of the other options listed above. Carolina doesn’t have a second or third-round pick. New Orleans is the next most quarterback-needing squad in the NFL behind Carolina. With Carolina out of the way in the second and third round, the Saints will get their pick on a QB.

Next. 3 Free Agents NOLA Will Regret Not Signing. dark

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While drafting a QB is something that the Saints should look at, they will also need a tackle and wide receiver. Both positions are likely to be at the top of New Orleans’ bucket list. But if the first year of the post-Drew Brees era taught Saints fans anything, it is that the team has no problem risking it all for the right quarterback.

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