The choice between youth and experience could very well be the determination going forward into 2019 and beyond. The next couple of months may provide a glimpse into the future, as the New Orleans Saints put together a roster that can compete next year and beyond. There are three crucial decisions looming before kickoff in September. Every single one determines the future direction of the black and gold. On the positive side, the Saints have plenty of options. Certainly, the NFL Draft is one aspect, but first, free agency is right around the corner.
March 13th is the first deadline for the Saints. Surely, there is plenty of players out there looking for a spot. Le’Veon Bell, Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu “Honey Badger”, and Golden Tate are just some of the top free agents looking for a possible landing spot in 2019. Still, the distribution of contract money is key to balancing the influx of players brought in. Are the Saints going to go big or spread the funds around? In other words, getting a couple of marquee names, versus up and coming potential marquee players in the future.
Of course, the NFL Draft in 2017 was the pot of gold for the Saints looking back. Drafting Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, and Marcus Williams have paid dividends big time. That draft stands alone on its merits.
Bringing in rookies that can impact a team with little money is an easy recipe for success. However, duplicating the feat looks to be impossible anytime soon. Presently, the Saints only have one pick in the first three rounds. The second round pick is the only one at the moment in those vitally important first three rounds.
Of course, there are exceptions. Marques Colston and Zach Strief were found in the seventh round. So there is hope. But the odds are long. Finding “diamonds in the rough” late in the NFL Draft are few and far between. Honestly, no team is going to bet on finding an immediate impact player late in the draft. Nevertheless, this is the reality at the moment.
Eventually, the Saints are going to have to prepare for another play caller to take over for Drew Brees. This is a conversation that needs attention sooner than later. That being said, this year Brees looks to be ready for one more run at least. Regardless, many other decisions need to be made. If the Saints want to be a player in this years’ draft, then someone with a huge name will have to go.
The only likely possibilities that have value are on the offensive line. The Saints may be willing to at least test the waters with Terron Armstead, Larry Warford, or even Max Unger. Unger has been stellar but has an expiring contract in 2020. Also, the return value on his play may not even be worth it.
Andrus Peat is another contract that expires in 2020. Combining just those four players’ contracts surpasses over 40 million dollars in contracts this year. The offensive line remains rock solid, and moving one of those is going to be a hard sell. However, something has to give if the Saints want to move up in the draft.
On the other hand, the Saints can just stay put. Play the hand out until 2020 with the cards they have. In 2020, the Saints could go into a whole new era. Is that with Drew Brees? Maybe. Regardless, the Saints would be wise to have a solid backup going into this year, or a quarterback that’s patient with sitting for a bit.
Obviously, this team is good enough to make another run to a Super Bowl with the pieces on hand barring injury. But the future is coming, and the Saints can’t be too conservative in keeping all their assets. The question will be, what can the Saints get in return? Also, is it worth the risk of going young too early?
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