The New Orleans Saints now sit at 4-7 after this week's 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. While this victory does little to quell the angst of Saints fans after the infamous 2019 NFC Championship Game no-call, it does bring a measure of satisfaction in a season lacking much success.
Unless the Saints go on an improbable winning streak, New Orleans will most likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Much of this season's failure can be attributed to the inconsistent quarterback play that has plagued the Saints franchise since the retirement of future first-ballot Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
Without a first-round pick in this year's upcoming NFL draft, many in Who Dat Nation wonder how the Saints can find their next franchise quarterback prior to the 2023 NFL season. Here are two simple ways the black and gold can do just that.
Use draft capital from a Sean Payton trade to draft a quarterback
The hottest commodity this offseason won't be an NFL free agent player but rather former Saints head coach Sean Payton. Several NFL franchises will look at the former Super Bowl-winning coach as the missing piece in their quest for a championship.
Payton, who is under contract with New Orleans till 2024, cannot sign with another team unless compensation is agreed upon with the Saints. Given Payton's success with Brees, the expectation is that he will choose a team that has a young franchise quarterback in a competitive large market. Most eyes have been on Dallas, where Payton's family currently resides. Another first-round playoff exit by the Cowboys could be just the push for Jerry Jones to replace Mike McCarthy.
Another team to watch is the Los Angeles Chargers and star quarterback Justin Herbert. The Chargers are currently 5-5 and fighting for a playoff spot in a season marred by injuries similar to New Orleans. Chargers owner Dean Spanos may open up the checkbook to acquire Payton in a division that features Patrick Mahomes and a conference with several young star quarterbacks.
As for the compensation, look no further than the Jon Gruden trade, where the Raiders received two first-round picks and two second-round picks from the Bucs for the rights to Gruden. While the compensation likely won't be that high, it's hard to imagine any scenario where either the Cowboys or Chargers won't have to give up this year's first-round pick in addition to Day 2 draft capital for the right to acquire Payton.
Trade for Derek Carr
The Las Vegas Raiders were the talk of the offseason when they traded for Derek Carr's former Fresno St. teammate Davante Adams this offseason. However, Josh McDaniels' inaugural season in Vegas has not gone according to plan given the Raiders are currently 3-7 and tied for the second-worst record in the league. Three of their remaining games are against the Patriots, 49ers, and Chiefs with away games at the Rams and Steelers.
There would be intense pressure on the Vegas franchise to draft Alabama's Bryce Young or Ohio State's C.J. Stroud if they are in a position to do so. If this were to happen, the Raiders would be forced to move on from veteran quarterback Derek Carr, whose contract extension in the offseason raised eyebrows when it was only guaranteed for the first year.
The Raiders would be forced to trade Carr before the entire 2023 salary of $32.9 million and $7.5 million of his 2024 salary becomes fully guaranteed if he is on their roster three days after the Super Bowl. The Saints would be among a handful of teams eager to add the three-time Pro Bowler and a trade with New Orleans would leave the Raiders with only $5.6 million in dead money despite the recent Carr extension.
Mickey Loomis and company could easily absorb Carr's salary for the next two seasons with contract restructures or even re-sign Carr to a longer extension at the time of the trade. Carr is an excellent leader on and off the field and could provide the Saints with solid quarterback play for years to come.
Saints fans disappointed in this season should root against the Cowboys, Chargers, and Raiders as the season progresses. One of these franchises could be the key to the Saints finding a replacement for Drew Brees in their attempt to capture a second Lombardi Trophy.