Before we get to draft week, Bleacher Report’s Ian Wharton went through the NFL and gave every team’s off-season a letter grade for what has happened so far. As for the New Orleans Saints, Wharton gave the team a ‘B-‘ grade. Here is what he had to say for his reasoning:
“Everyone knew the day would come when the constant cap restructures and manipulation would cost the New Orleans Saints some talent. That day came in 2022 even as the franchise found itself as a finalist to land Deshaun Watson via trade. It’s impressive New Orleans was even in the mix, and this grade would be dramatically higher had Watson chosen New Orleans.
Instead, Watson opted for Cleveland and Terron Armstead quickly signed with Miami. Losing Armstead isn’t disastrous considering his injury history, but when coupled with the departures of Sean Payton and Marcus Williams, it’s easy to forecast a lower ceiling for 2022 than 2021. There’s a lot riding on new head coach Dennis Allen and Jameis Winston’s recovering ACL.
Nevertheless, New Orleans could have a relatively simple path to an NFC wild-card spot. Allen should be able to maintain the defense’s performance level, and retaining offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael should ease any transition concerns. And don’t forget the return of star receiver Michael Thomas from ankle surgery will be a welcome boost to the offense.”
Personally, I feel like it is a generous grade. The whole goal of an offseason, is to make your team better, and so far the team has only got worse. Yes, there is potential to upgrade on losses in the draft, but we haven’t seen their choices yet.
Losing Marcus Williams was not ideal, but it did come with the signing of Marcus Maye. Maye is a player whose game I like a lot and think he will bring a lot to this defense, but it is still a downgrade. Terron Armstead is another crucial vet who left the team this off-season, leaving them with James Hurst at left tackle. While Hurst is serviceable, it is not sustainable long term. This will likely get addressed in the draft. There were also two major retirements in Malcolm Jenkins and Sean Payton, losses that will be felt in multiple ways.
Wide receiver is a major hole for New Orleans and the team has failed to bring in a vet, despite some good names being available early on. The best thing that the team has done, is locking up Jameis Winston for two more seasons at a good price. He looked fit to lead the team, is popular in the locker room, and will allow familiarity to the position. This was legitimately a great move.
Some of these losses or deficiencies will be addressed to during the draft, but if we were grading purely on the moves so far, I think the team would deserve something directly in the middle, such as a ‘C’ grade.