Is it time for the Saints to reset and move on from core veterans?

The New Orleans Saints have been toiling in mediocrity for three straight seasons. Is it time for the team to hit the hard reset button?

New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

After the 2020 NFL season, longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees retired. A year later, longtime head coach Sean Payton left the team. The combination of the two moves would lead to most teams resetting and starting a new era completely. The Saints took a different approach. They worked to retain the majority of their high-paid veterans and tried to cling to the winning culture that was established in the previous era.

Unfortunately, that path hasn’t yielded much success. New Orleans has instead toiled in mediocrity, going 9-8, 7-10, and 9-8 in the three seasons since Brees retried, missing the playoffs all three years. Now, the Saints enter an offseason where they’ll be around $80 million over the cap, despite not having a roster that anyone believes is ready to contend for a championship.

This reality should force New Orleans to answer a tough question: is it time for the franchise to undergo a hard reset and move on from key veterans?

Should the Saints enter a rebuilding stage?

The cap situation that New Orleans is facing isn’t anything new for the team. Everyone offseason, the Saints work out some cap space magic to get under the salary cap. The magic is essentially a bunch of restructured contracts that kicks the can down the road. This method is a way to delay the inevitable, with the inevitable being a muilti-year period where the Saints can’t build with talented veterans because they’re paying out a lot of old contracts.

Ideally, New Orleans would counter this by building a young and talented team, so that it can remain competitive while improving the cap situation. Unfortunately, that transition hasn’t taken place, as New Orleans is the oldest team in the NFL. That means the Saints have to ask themselves if they should just rip the Band-Aid off, moving on from their older and highest-paid players, and accepting the results that the remaining roster brings.

New Orleans is certainly close to having to start that process, but it’s not time yet. As the team prepares to enter year two with Derek Carr, and the first year with Klint Kubiak as offensive coordinator, the 2024 season should be used as a deciding year. If there isn’t a substantial improvement next season, and the team once again hovers around .500, then the Saints need to tear everything up next offseason.