The 2023 season was an underwhelming one for the New Orleans Saints. They finished 9-8, playing several disappointing games, and were still only a game away from the playoffs. It was also the team’s first year with quarterback Derek Carr leading the offense, and the unit had some ups and downs.
The Saints finished the season averaging 23.6 points a game, which was ninth-most in the NFL, however, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was fired after the season. Next season, the coaching staff will look different and so will the players on the field.
New Orleans has several offensive players, including Michael Thomas, entering free agency. Of course, the team won’t be able to re-sign them all. ESPN’s Aaron Schatz recently made a prediction about a couple of the decisions New Orleans will have to make. Schatz believes the Saints will lose Andrus Peat in free agency and will cut James Hurst, giving the team an entirely new left side of the offensive line next season.
ESPN predicts Saints will restructure left side of offensive line
New Orleans had to shift its offensive line around some this season, resulting in Andrus Peat playing left tackle and James Hurst playing left guard, different from their original positions. The group did a solid job of protecting the quarterback, giving up only 35 sacks— 24 teams allowed more sacks than the Saints. However, the Saints weren’t that effective running the ball, averaging just 102.5 yards a game— 21st in the league.
Peat is set to enter free agency, and Schatz notes that New Orleans would save $3.3 million by cutting Hurst with a post-June 1 designation. Still, it’s risky to move on at offensive line without a clear succession plan. The Saints do have Trevor Penning, who they drafted in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. If they believe he’s ready to be a full-time starter at left tackle, then this prediction may become a reality.
Whatever it is the Saints decide needs to be the right decision. Teams can’t afford having the wrong guys on the offensive line, especially on the side protecting the quarterback’s blind side. A bad offensive line can completely derail a promising season, so New Orleans must make sure the line doesn’t regress.
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