2023 NFL Offseason: New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints (Last Year: 7-10)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Derek Carr, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Bryan Edwards, TE Foster Moreau, OT Storm Norton, C Billy Price, DT Khalen Saunders, DT Nathan Shepherd, CB Lonnie Johnson, S Johnathan Abram.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Bryan Bresee, DE Isaiah Foskey, RB Kendre Miller, G/OT Nick Saldiveri, QB Jake Haener, S Jordan Howden. Saints Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Andy Dalton, RB Mark Ingram, WR Jarvis Landry, WR Marquez Callaway, WR Deonte Harty, DE Marcus Davenport, DE Kaden Ellis, DE/DT Tanoh Kpassagnon, DT David Onyemata, DT Shy Tuttle, DT Kentavius Street, CB Bradley Roby, CB Chris Harris Jr., S Justin Evans, S P.J. Williams, S Daniel Sorensen.

2023 New Orleans Saints Offense:
The post-Drew Brees era has been rough for the Saints. They tried Jameis Winston as an immediate replacement, but after a hot start, he suffered an injury, ultimately playing just seven games in 2021. He was given one more chance last year, but he got hurt again, making it just three games this time. He was replaced by Andy Dalton, who was his usual, mediocre self.

The Saints have decided to opt for another solution this season, signing Derek Carr to a large contract. Carr is a fine quarterback, but lacks toughness and leadership. He cried during a post-game press conference last year and then ultimately left the Raiders upon being benched. Coaches have long expressed disdain for Carr’s non-existent toughness trait.

There are other problems in New Orleans’ backfield, and those would belong to Alvin Kamara. The once-dynamic back is coming off a very underwhelming season and may not even be available in 2023 because of a potential suspension stemming from an off-the-field action. Since Kamara joined the team, the Saints have been much worse when he hasn’t been available. If he has to serve a suspension, the Saints will have to lean on Jamaal Williams and rookie Kendre Miller. Williams was a touchdown machine last year, but isn’t that great of a runner. Scouts were high on Miller, so he definitely has potential.

The Saints also have some talented, young players in their receiving corps. This obviously includes Chris Olave, who thrived as a rookie last year. Olave caught 72 passes for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns, assuming the No. 1 receiver role when Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry got hurt. Olave seized the reins and never looked back. Thomas will return for another year, but it’s fair to wonder if he has anything left in the tank. If not, the No. 2 receiver could be Rashid Shaheed, who is an explosive deep threat.

It’ll help if Carr has ample protection so he can get the ball to his receivers. It’s fair to say that New Orleans’ offensive line isn’t quite what it once was, as former Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead signed with the Dolphins a year ago. Ryan Ramczyk is still one of the better right tackles in the NFL, but the person replacing Armstead is just the pedestrian James Hurst. It’ll be interesting to see if last year’s first-round pick, Trevor Penning, can finally unseat Hurst.

The interior of the Saints’ offensive line isn’t great. Andrus Peat has been a liability for quite some time, and he’ll start next to a pair of blockers who aren’t great: center Erik McCoy and guard Cesar Ruiz. Of the two, McCoy is the superior option, as he has performed well in the past, but missed some time in 2022 with an injury, which could have affected his play. Ruiz, on the other hand, has been a first-round bust.

2023 New Orleans Saints Defense:
The Saints couldn’t quite get their man in the 2023 NFL Draft. They had their eyes on Clemson’s Myles Murphy, but the Bengals selected him one pick prior. New Orleans had to settle on Murphy’s teammate, Bryan Bresee, as a result. Murphy was desired because the Saints believed he would fix their poor pass rush. New Orleans used to generate good pressure on the quarterback, but it ranked 30th in that department last year. Only the Falcons and Bears were worse in that regard.

Given what occurred this offseason, it’s possible that the Saints will generate even less pressure on the quarterback in 2023. This is because Marcus Davenport left the team via free agency. New Orleans still has Cameron Jordan, but his production fell off a cliff last year, quite possibly because of age (34). He was still stout in run support, but he couldn’t get after the quarterback nearly as well as he could in the past. Former first-round pick Payton Turner was a disappointment in this regard as well. After missing out on Murphy, the Saints used a second-round pick on the athletic Isaiah Foskey to provide some much-needed pass-rushing help, but it remains to be seen if he can be productive as a rookie.

Davenport wasn’t the only productive defensive lineman the Saints lost this offseason, as they said farewell to David Onyemata. He was a huge loss, though Bresee performing well would ease the pain of that departure. The problem is that Bresee never really lived up to expectations in Clemson. He also has an extensive injury history. Two other new defensive tackles – Nathan Shepherd, Khalen Saunders – will see plenty of snaps as well. Saunders is a massive run stuffer, while Shepherd can generate some quarterback pressure.

The Saints’ poor pass rush won’t do the secondary any favors. There are some holes in the defensive backfield, though not on one side of the field. Marshon Lattimore is one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, though he missed 10 weeks of action last year. He’ll return at 100 percent, but won’t be playing across from anyone competent. The favorite to be the other starting corner is 2021 third-rounder Paulson Adebo, who was routinely torched last year. Another young cornerback, Alontae Taylor, was also beaten repeatedly, though he was a second-round rookie, so he might be able to improve. There’s also Bradley Roby, who was one of the worst cornerbacks in the NFL last season. Roby has been an inconsistent player throughout his career, so perhaps he’ll bounce back to form. However, he’s now 31, so it’s possible that all of his best days are behind him.

The secondary at least isn’t a complete mess beyond Lattimore, as the Saints have a pair of talented safeties. Tyrann Mathieu isn’t the best tackler, but he can fly all over the field and make plays. Marcus Maye isn’t as flashy, but he’s also a gifted safety.

New Orleans is great over the middle of the field with its safeties and linebackers. The latter group is comprised of Demario Davis and Pete Werner. Davis is one of the top off-ball linebackers in the NFL, while Werner is a solid player, particularly when it comes to coverage.

2023 New Orleans Saints Schedule and Intangibles:
The Saints were 69-34 at home this past decade-plus, including 35-19 in the previous five years. However, they’ve suffered some horrible losses at home in the playoffs.

Wil Lutz is often a great kicker, but he’s coming off the worst season of his career. He was just 23-of-31, as he missed four of his eight tries between 40 and 49.

Blake Gillikin was in the middle of the pack in net punting last year, but did very well when pinning the opposition inside the 20.

The Saints have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL. The only difficult game is against the Lions.

2023 New Orleans Saints Rookies:
Go here for the Saints Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2023 New Orleans Saints Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 New Orleans Saints Analysis: The Saints have some major flaws, but they’re in the NFC South, so it really doesn’t matter as far as their playoff chances are concerned. It’s very possible that New Orleans will win the NFC South, but even if that happens, a first-round exit will certainly occur. It would be in the Saints’ best interest to tank for either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye.

Projection: 6-11 (3rd in NFC South)

2022 Projection: 7-10. 2022 Actual Result: 7-10.
2021 Projection: 5-12. 2021 Actual Result: 9-8.
2020 Projection: 13-3. 2020 Actual Result: 12-4.
2019 Projection: 9-7. 2019 Actual Result: 13-3.
2018 Projection: 13-3. 2018 Actual Result: 13-3.
2016 Projection: 8-8. 2017 Actual Result: 11-5.
2016 Projection: 6-10. 2016 Actual Result: 7-9.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Saints traded away this year’s first-round pick, so they won’t be in a position to obtain a franchise quarterback. They still have a opening-round selection from the Sean Payton trade, however, so they can focus on fixing some of their glaring holes on their defense. They were 25th against the run last year, and they were also ranked in the bottom 10 in pressure rate.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: Most of the Saints’ picks were hit or miss. Some of their hits include Isaiah Foskey, a very athletic pass rusher taken in the second round, and Kendre Miller, a third-round running back. The Saints had a dreadful pass rush last year, so Foskey will certainly help in that department. Miller, meanwhile, could be the Saints’ lead back if Alvin Kamara is suspended.

The misses include the first-round pick, Bryan Bresee. The Clemson defensive tackle is very talented, but didn’t live up to his potential in college. He also has a very dubious injury history. I also wasn’t a fan of Nick Saldiveri, as there was no reason to trade up for him atop the fourth round.

The Saints had an average draft overall. Though they reached at times, they at least focused on their primary needs, and they also obtained some quality prospects.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

29. Bryan Bresee, DT, Clemson – C Grade
The Saints lost David Onyemata this offseason, so it’s not a surprise that they drafted Bryan Bresee with Myles Murphy off the board. However, this is a very questionable selection with Nolan Smith and Michael Mayer on the board. Bresee is a very talented player, but he didn’t live up to expectations at Clemson, and he also has some major injury concerns.

40. Isaiah Foskey, DE, Notre Dame – A- Grade
The Saints could have gone with Keion White, but Isaiah Foskey is a great option as well. Foskey is very athletic and should help a pass rush that was horrific last year. With Marcus Davenport gone and Cameron Jordan on a sharp decline, someone like Foskey was needed.

71. Kendre Miller, RB, TCU – A Grade
This pick shouldn’t surprise anyone. Alvin Kamara, who could be suspended for his off-the-field issues, looked like he was running in quicksand last year, outside of the game in which he played against the flu-ridden Raiders. Miller is someone who had second-round interest, so I like the value.

103. Nick Saldiveri, G/OT, Old Dominion – C- Grade
I’m not sure why the Saints needed to trade up for Nick Saldiveri, who was a late-round prospect. Saldiveri is at least a versatile lineman – he can play tackle and guard – which is key because New Orleans needed blocking help.

127. Jake Haener, QB, Fresno State – C+ Grade
The Saints needed a quarterback of the future, so Jake Haener makes sense to fill that role. Haener is an accurate quarterback, but has an injury history. I think there were better options at the position, but I don’t hate this pick.

146. Jordan Howden, S, Minnesota – B Grade
I had Jordan Howden going three picks later than this, so the range makes sense for the Saints, who needed to improve their secondary. Jordan Howden had lots of fans from the scouting departments even though his play didn’t show it at Minnesota.

195. A.T. Perry, WR, Wake Forest – B Grade
No one should be surprised that the Saints added to their receiving corps, which is starved for depth. A.T. Perry is a massive wideout who should be a nice weapon in the end zone.

Season Summary:
The Saints endured some major injury issues throughout the season, yet they had a chance to win the division by the end of the season. They came up a bit short, but perhaps they’ll have better luck in 2023.

Offseason Moves:
  • Saints sign C Billy Price
  • Saints sign TE Foster Moreau
  • Saints sign WR Bryan Edwards
  • Saints sign S Johnathan Abram
  • Saints sign CB Lonnie Johnson
  • Saints sign OT Storm Norton
  • Saints sign RB Jamaal Williams
  • Saints sign DT Khalen Saunders
  • Saints sign DT Nathan Shepherd
  • Saints sign QB Derek Carr

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Jameis Winston will return next year, but the Saints can’t count on him to be their starting quarterback. Signed Derek Carr

    2. Two Defensive Ends: Make that only one defensive end if Marcus Davenport is re-signed. Cameron Jordan is not nearly the same player he once was.

    3. Defensive Tackle: Here’s more defensive line help for a New Orleans defense that really struggled to generate pressure last year. Signed Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders

    4. Cornerback: New Orleans struggled to defend the pass last year. Part of that was the lackluster pass rush, but the team also had bad cornerback play. Signed Lonnie Johnson

    5. Guard: The Saints used to have tremendous guard play, but that has changed in recent years.

    6. Linebacker: New Orleans had interest in Quay Walker in the 2022 NFL Draft, as one more linebacker should be added to the mix.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Derek Carr, QB, Raiders. Age: 32.
      Signed with Saints

      Derek Carr has been a mediocre NFL starting quarterback for some time. He has posted great numbers at times, but never seems to come through in the clutch. Carr also cried during a post-game press conference and later abandoned the team after he was benched at the end of the year.

    2. Jamaal Williams, RB, Lions. Age: 28.
      Signed with Saints (3 years, $12 million)

      Jamaal Williams led the NFL in touchdowns last year. He’s a great goal-line back, but he’s just above average as a runner overall.

    3. Johnathan Abram, S, Seahawks. Age: 26. — Signed with Saints
    4. Foster Moreau, TE, Raiders. Age: 26. — Signed with Saints
    5. Nathan Shepherd, DT, Jets. Age: 29. — Signed with Saints
    6. Khalen Saunders, NT, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Signed with Saints
    7. Lonnie Johnson, CB, Titans. Age: 27. — Signed with Saints
    8. Billy Price, C, Cardinals. Age: 27. — Signed with Saints
    9. Storm Norton, OT, Chargers. Age: 29. — Signed with Saints
    10. Jesse James, TE, Browns. Age: 29. — Signed with Saints

    New Orleans Saints Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Marcus Davenport, DE, Saints. Age: 26.
      Signed with Vikings

      Marcus Davenport logged nine sacks in 2021, but had just half of a sack this past year. Davenport played much better than that number indicates, however.

    2. David Onyemata, DT, Saints. Age: 30.
      Signed with Falcons (3 years, $35 million)

      David Onyemata has enjoyed some tremendous years in New Orleans, though he’s coming off a down season. He was rather average in 2022. He just turned 30, so perhaps he’s now on the decline.

    3. Bradley Roby, CB, Saints. Age: 31.
      Bradley Roby has been an incredibly inconsistent receiver throughout his career. He’s coming off a down year, so perhaps that means he’ll bounce back in 2023.

    4. Jarvis Landry, WR, Saints. Age: 30.
      Jarvis Landry didn’t play much in 2022 because of injuries. He struggled when he was on the field, but he should be able to have a much better year in 2023.

    5. Andy Dalton, QB, Saints. Age: 35.
      Signed with Panthers (2 years, $10 million)

      Andy Dalton did a solid job in place of Jameis Winston last year, but he’s now 35, so he doesn’t have much time remaining in the NFL.

    6. Kaden Elliss, DE, Saints. Age: 28.
    7. Shy Tuttle, DT, Saints. Age: 27. — Signed with Panthers
    8. Kentavius Street, DT, Saints. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    9. Justin Evans, S, Saints. Age: 26. — Signed with Eagles
    10. Chris Harris Jr., CB, Saints. Age: 34.
    11. Marquez Callaway, WR, Saints. Age: 25. — Signed with Broncos
    12. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE/DT, Saints. Age: 29.
    13. P.J. Williams, S, Saints. Age: 30.
    14. Mark Ingram, RB, Saints. Age: 33.
    15. Daniel Sorensen, S, Saints. Age: 33.
    16. David Johnson, RB, Saints. Age: 31.
    17. Dwayne Washington, RB, Saints. Age: 29.
    18. Isaac Yiadom, CB, Saints. Age: 27.
    19. Deonte Harty, WR, Saints. Age: 25. — Signed with Bills (2 years)
    20. Ethan Greenridge, G, Saints. Age: 25.
    21. Ty Summers, LB, Saints. Age: 27.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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