The New Orleans Saints have been busy adding inexpensive low level free agents with potential.
In addition to adding Andy Dalton as their backup quarterback, the Saints have recently signed safety Justin Evans and defensive end Taco Charlton this week. This means they’ve now added five defensive players in free agency (DL Kentavius Street, S Marcus Maye and DT Jaleel Johnson are the others) and just one offensive player. Of these, the only that constituted real spending was Maye.
The lack of offensive firepower added is puzzling when you consider how much that unit struggled a year ago, but a recent Dennis Allen quote put this in perspective. He said, “I’d rather augment our team through free agency and really build our team through the draft.”
Let’s be honest, while the defense doesn’t need much building but would always welcome augmenting, the offense is in need of a big overhaul. And now, with the most recent trade sending the 18th overall pick, a first in 2023 and a second in 2024 to the Eagles in exchange for the 16th and 19th overall pick this year – it’s clear the Saints are all in on building their offense through this 2022 draft.
That doesn’t mean they won’t still try to hit singles in free agency with cost effective moves, but it does appear to support Allen’s claims that the real improvements they make offensively will come in the draft this season.
So while it seems clear the goal is to use this 16th and 19th pick to improve offensively, how will the Saints use these picks exactly? Well, there’s a number of directions this could go. If they decided the time is now to secure their quarterback of the future, you can’t rule out the possibility that they would package both picks to move up.
The trade chart suggests 16 and 19 packaged together can get you up to fifth overall. In this scenario, quarterbacks Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett and Desmond Ridder are all potential options. It’s also possible, though less likely, that Pickett or Ridder could fall to them at 16. Matt Corral could also potentially be an option with those two picks.
If the Saints are satisfied with Winston, Dalton, Ian Book and Blake Bortles in their quarterback room, though, then I think it’s clear the two positions prioritized the most are likely to be wide receiver and offensive tackle.
At tackle players to watch are Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, Charles Cross of Mississippi State, Bernhard Raimann of Central Michigan and Trevor Penning of Northern Iowa. At receiver, the Saints could look at Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave of Ohio State, Jameson Williams of Alabama, Drake London of USC, or Treylon Burks of Arkansas.
Should the Saints keep both of these picks at 16 and 19, it’s very likely they’ll end up with two of the players mentioned above. And this should be a significant needle mover offensively if the Saints can make the right selection.
The bottom line is this was a massive trade move and it signals that exceptional young talent is on the way to jumpstart the Saints offense. It may have taken longer this offseason than fans wanted to see improvements on this side of the ball, but the move is a big first step in securing progress both now and in the future.
Andrew Juge is the co-host of “The Saints Happy Hour Podcast.”