You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

3 major fixes Saints must make this offseason to reach the NFL playoffs in 2023

ClutchPoints logo: MainLogo ClutchPoints 2/2/2023 Tim Crean
2/2/23 © Provided by ClutchPoints 2/2/23

The New Orleans Saints weren’t all that good in 2022, finishing 7-10. The good news is, the entire NFC South isn’t that good either. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons were also 7-10, and the playoff-bound, division-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers were just one win better at 8-9. That means this Saints’ offseason is a race for the teams in the division to get just a little better, and whoever does can easily take the spot in the NFL playoffs next season. For the Saints to be that team, they will have to deal with a horrific salary cap situation, re-sign a few crucial Saints free agents, and nail the NFL draft. So, without further ado, here are the three major fixes the Saints must make this offseason to reach the NFL playoffs in 2023.

3. Cut a ton of salary off the cap during the Saints’ offseason

When the NFL announced a historic jump in the salary cap (+$16.6 million to $224.8 million next season), many teams rejoiced. However, it still didn’t provide all that much help to the Saints, who are dead last in the league with $-57,381,434 in cap space.

With some quick, back-of-the-napkin math, here is the path this Saints offseason to getting under the cap. General manager Mickey Loomis needs to restructure the contracts of Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Alvin Kamara, Taysom Hill, Michael Thomas, Demario Davis, Erik McCoy, Tyrann Mathieu, and Marcus Maye.

Then, he needs to cut Jameis Winston, Will Lutz, James Hurst, Tre’Quan Smith, Adam Trautman, Eno Benjamin, Jake Luton, Ryan Connelley, and Derrick Gore.

That gets the Saints roughly five million in free cap space. There will have to be more moves from there to sign Saints free agents and get the team back to the NFL playoffs in 2023, but dealing with those 19 players first during the Saints’ offseason is paramount.

2. Re-sign a key Saints free agent

Phew! Now that the salary cap is taken care of, New Orleans can focus on re-signing the biggest-name and most important Saints free agents. As you can see above, the team doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to be big players in free agency, so re-signing their own becomes critical.

Cornerback Bradley Roby is expendable this offseason with the emergence of Paulson Adebo and Alonte Taylor, and defensive end Marcus Davenport will likely become too expensive to keep. That leaves defensive tackle David Onyemata as the key Saints free agent to re-sign.

Onyemata had another solid year upfront for New Orleans. He has near-career highs in tackles (46), sacks (5.0), and QB hits (11). The former Manitoba Bison is also relatively affordable at around $10 million, which means he is one of the few Saints free agents the team can afford this summer.

If the team hopes to make the NFL playoffs in 2023, the defensive unit has to lead the way. Keeping Onyemata in black and gold for 2023 and beyond will be a big step in that direction.

1. Draft a franchise quarterback

Now to the fun/hard part. Even if the Saints’ offseason goes exceptionally well in almost every area, if the team doesn’t find a franchise quarterback, they are likely not returning to the NFL playoffs anytime soon.

Heading into the Saints’ offseason, if they execute the plans above, there will be no quarterbacks on the roster. Andy Dalton is gone in free agency, and Jamie Winston and Jake Luton are salary cap causalities.

New Orleans can sign a veteran QB with some possible upside. But it will have to be on the low end of the salary spectrum. Names like Jimmy Garoppolo and even Sam Darnold are out. Think QBs like Mike White, Cooper Rush, or Taylor Heinicke.

That’s what makes drafting a QB in the 2023 NFL Draft the most important fix of the Saints’ offseason.

By trading Sean Payton to the Broncos, the Saints are back in the first round with pick No. 29. That’s not good enough to get Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, or even Anthony Richardson. However, it could get Tennessee signal-caller Hendon Hooker.

Hooker had a breakout season in 2022 before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. That misfortune could be the Saints’ gain, as Hooker should be available at No. 29 and could be an exceptional value at that spot.

Whether the Saints see Hooker as their next franchise signal-caller or not, the team has to take a QB in the 2023 NFL Draft. If not Hendon Hooker, look for Tanner McKee (Stanford), Jaren Hall (BYU), or Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA) to head to the Big Easy on day two or three of the draft.

The post 3 major fixes Saints must make this offseason to reach the NFL playoffs in 2023 appeared first on ClutchPoints.


Nish Patel

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon