Productive Offseason Bolsters Saints’ Super Bowl Run

09:30 May 23, 2018
By: Reed Darcey

After having an improbable, wildly successful season end in heartbreaking fashion to the hands of the Minnesota Vikings in the “Minneapolis Miracle,” the Saints headed into the offseason eager to avenge the defeat and build on a promising roster.


At the onset of free agency, the team tackled its first priority by signing quarterback Drew Brees to a new two-year contract worth a total of 50 million dollars, 27 of which are guaranteed. The deal solidifies what Saints fans desire second only to another Super Bowl crown: Brees will likely play the rest of his career in New Orleans.

The most surprising news of the offseason came when it was announced Pro Bowl RB Mark Ingram was suspended for the first four games of 2018 for a violation of the NFL’s performance-enhancing substances policy. Partnered with the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara, Ingram had a career year in 2017-2018, rushing for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Together the tandem became the first backfield duo in NFL history to each surpass 1,500 scrimmage yards. Though rumors have floated about how the team may be interested in bringing back Adrian Peterson to shoulder some of Ingram’s workload in the first quarter of the season, Kamara is more than capable of handling additional carries.

The rest of the offense returns largely intact.

The offensive line, a huge factor in the Saints’ rushing dominance last season, returns all five starters. Though the departures of Zach Strief to retirement and Senio Kelemete to the Houston Texans leave the line lacking depth, it remains one of the best units in the NFL. A dominant offensive line is paramount to the black and gold’s success, allowing a balance between rushes and passes to take pressure off Brees’s aging arm.   

Though Ingram’s suspension hurts, Who Dat faithful should not be concerned, as head coach Sean Payton, Brees, and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael have enjoyed consistent offensive success with a revolving cast of characters. When Ingram returns, however, the Saints’ offense will be as complete and balanced as it has been in the Payton-Brees era, poised to continue 2017’s success.


Often an achilles heel of the last decade of Saints football, the defense took major strides in 2017, becoming one of the best units in football.

The dominant play of Pro Bowl DE Cam Jordan combined with the breakout of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year CB Marshon Lattimore took the unit to heights it hasn’t reached since 2009.

Headlining the defense’s offseason is the draft night trade of first round picks in 2018 and 2019 and a 2018 fifth-rounder to move up to pick 14 to select DE from UT San Antonio Marcus Davenport.

When the trade was announced, it seemed as though the Saints were moving up to select one of the draft’s top quarterbacks, potentially starting a succession plan to Brees.

However, that project will have to wait. A daring, risky move, the trade addressed the team’s most pressing need and sends a signal that the Saints want to win immediately and view themselves as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

Those who question whether the price for Davenport was too rich should consider that if expectations are met, that 2019 pick will be late in the first round, a more difficult spot to grab a difference-maker. They should also note that the last two drafts have yielded a whopping seven starters: DT Sheldon Rankins, S Vonn Bell, S Marcus Williams, T Ryan Ramczyk, including Pro Bowlers in WR Michael Thomas, RB Alvin Kamara, and CB Marshon Lattimore. Mickey Loomis, Jeff Ireland, and the Saints’ scouting department are to be trusted.

The team also strengthened its linebacking core by signing Demario Davis, a former Jet who had a career year last season, becoming one of 2017’s most productive linebackers. He had 135 tackles, 13 of which were for a loss, to go with five sacks.

Former Saints CB Patrick Robinson, after starting for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, also agreed to a four-year deal to return to New Orleans.

If there were question marks heading into the offseason, they were small ones in the pass rush, linebacker depth, and secondary. The Saints addressed all three needs and will thus field a complete, talented defense in 2018 that is one of the deepest in recent memory, and under the helm of coordinator Dennis Allen, in a perfect position to build on last season’s success.

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