It’s been a busy offseason for the Saints, but it didn’t start that way. And if you took the departures of Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams and the retirement of Malcolm Jenkins on their own you might even say the Saints went backward significantly. But the Saints followed up the draft with a busy signing period to make the most of what was a tumultuous offseason. Here are the best five offseason moves:
1. Failing to acquire Deshaun Watson
Each day that passes the situation with Watson appears worse and worse. Remember, the Browns gave Watson a five-year, $230 million contract all of which is fully guaranteed. They also gave up the 13th overall pick in 2022 (which was used to select Georgia DT Jordan Davis) and pick 107 in the fourth round, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a third round pick in 2023 and a fourth round pick in 2024.
The capital sunk into Watson is something no one has ever seen before and that’s not even discussing the baggage it comes with. Watson could be facing a lengthy suspension and it’s not out of the realm of possibility he won’t play football on the field for two full years before he finally takes over as the Browns’ QB. Even then, they’ll be dealing with his inflated cap number and the inability to surround him with elite young talent in the draft.
Time will tell how this goes but right now this looks like it could be one of the biggest mistakes in NFL history.
The Saints appear to have dodged a bullet here. The even better extension to this failed move was getting Jameis Winston back on a very affordable deal, while having the cap space and draft capital to add talent around him. It feels like a much better situation.
2. Re-signing Jameis Winston
He may not be the quarterback of the future, that remains to be seen, but he’s the quarterback of the now. And his two-year, $28 million deal, with $21 million in guarantees, is about as cheap as it gets for a starting quarterback in the league. As far as investment goes, the risk is low and the potential return is very high.
The Saints are fortunate the Watson trade attempt didn’t muddy the waters with Winston and they were able to pivot from that situation and have him return. The Falcons weren’t so lucky, as their interest in Watson clearly damaged their relationship with Matt Ryan to the point where he demanded a trade and left.
Now, Winston will get his chance to be the full time starter while being empowered by the coaching staff in a way he wasn’t before.
3. Signing LSU stars Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry
With Marcus Williams leaving in free agency and Malcom Jenkins retiring, the Saints will go into 2022 with both of their starting safeties from the previous year. Mathieu fills an obvious glaring need but he also fills a massive leadership void left by Jenkins.
Further, being a former LSU star with a big local support, Mathieu infused excitement in the fan base that is already palpable. He’s still playing at a high level and the Saints will be expecting a high level of play from the All Pro. His contract at three years for $28.3 million being much more affordable than Williams’s is a steal.
Landry’s deal is even more of a steal at one-year $3 million with the potential to go up to $6 million. He clearly could have made more elsewhere but he also comes home and improves the Saints receiver room dramatically. These are local guys with great professio
4. Trading with the Eagles to acquire an additional 1st Round Pick
After a slow start to the offseason, the draft felt like a critical time to land serious talent that could help immediately. The Saints drafted wide receiver Chris Olave from Ohio State and tackle Trevor Penning of Northern Iowa to fill major needs. The Saints offense ranked 32nd in passing last season, in part due to grossly ineffective receiver personnel.
In Olave, they get an explosive player with great hands and route running ability that should make an immediate impact. In Penning, they get a supremely athletic left tackle that can hopefully fill Armstead’s shoes quickly. These were major acquisitions to help jump start the offense.
Still, this was an expensive move as the Eagles traded the No. 16 overall pick (Olave), No. 19 overall pick (Penning) and a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Saints for the No. 18 overall pick, a 2022 third-round pick, a 2022 seventh-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick. It will be important for these players to live up to their draft status and quickly.
5. Signing Marcus Maye
Prior to the draft, Maye was the crown jewel of the 2022 Saints free agent class. He is a former Pro Bowler veteran that will interchange with Mathieu to give the defense an opportunity for multiple looks. He signed a three-year, $28.5 million deal that helps offset the loss of the aforementioned starters.
Maye is returning from a major injury and may get suspended this season for a DUI. The Saints hope he can return to form and make a major impact.
Andrew Juge is the co-host of “The Saints Happy Hour Podcast.”