Despite promising young WRs, Saints’ offensive weapons are ranked near bottom of NFL

The New Orleans Saints have some talented skill players on the offensive side of the ball, but they don’t stack up well with the rest of the league.
New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints v Green Bay Packers / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages

The New Orleans Saints lost three-time Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas this offseason, but they still have a group of offensive weapons that they believe in. Led by five-time Pro Bowler Alvin Kamara in the backfield, the Saints also have two productive young receivers in Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. Additionally, New Orleans has Taysom Hill, Juwan Johnson, and a host of young players that will try to establish themselves in 2024.

While this is a promising group, it’s understood the weapons in New Orleans could be even better. However, NFL analysts seem to think even less of the group than imagined. This was evident in a recent ESPN ranking of teams’ offensive weapons by Bill Barnwell. Barnwell ranked teams simply by looking at their wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs.

This is an exercise that Barnwell does every offseason, and the ranking is essentially projecting how the groups will look in the upcoming season. With that in mind, Barnwell ranked New Orleans’ weapons 25th heading into the 2024 season.

Saints’ offensive skill players ranked 25th in NFL by ESPN

A year ago, New Orleans was ranked 14; in 2022, the team was ranked 21. Now, the Saints are down at 25. Barnwell argued that it’s not even a certainty the team has two standout playmakers. While he believes Chris Olave will continue to ascend in 2024, Barnwell thinks Alvin Kamara is going the other way.

"Do the Saints have two playmaker standouts? Depends on how optimistic you are about Alvin Kamara. I'm confident in Chris Olave, but Kamara hasn't been an efficient runner for three seasons now since Drew Brees retired. He has averaged 3.9 yards per carry and generated minus-277 rush yards over expectation during that stretch."

Bill Barnwell

Unfortunately, Barnwell isn’t the first to make this argument. After starting his career with five straight Pro Bowls, Kamara has missed out the last two seasons, and many people think he’s past his best days. However, a great deal of people also believe Kamara still has the skills that make him special, and just needs a little help from the scheme and offensive line to show it.

That's what the 2024 season will be all about for the Saints; proving themselves. Barnwell praised Rashid Shaheed as a a deep threat, but said he’s not sure about him as an every-down receiver. Simply put, everyone in New Orleans will have to show what they’re about this season.

Barnwell did end things by saying the group can be back in the teens if Klint Kubiak can get Alvin Kamara back on track, and that’s exactly what the Saints are expecting to happen.