At the close of the 2021 NFL season, the Saints had one of the highest salary cap deficits ($75 million) in the division. But with long-term coach Sean Payton heading for the exit and general manager Mickey Loomis ushering in a new era, they have sought to balance the books by letting go Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams, as well as trading their 2023 first-round draft for an additional first rounder this year.
Those represent bold moves from a team which has never shied away from big gambles, but they must be followed with squad upgrades if they are to return to the hallowed turf of the Super Bowl in February next year. We take a look at who they’ve signed up so far this year and what effect those deals might have on their fortunes in 2022 and beyond.
Perhaps the most influential signing the Saints have made in the off-season is not one who will feature on the field of play, but will pull the strings off it. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen has been promoted to fill Payton’s sizable shoes in the role of head coach and whether or not the Saints can get off to a winning start in their new era will depend largely on his tactical prowess. Although his prior record at the Oakland Raiders does not make for pretty reading (8-28), he has turned their backline into one of the sternest in the division.
Quarterback Jameis Winston made a blistering start to the 2021 season, helping the Saints to five wins in their opening seven games. However, a ruptured ACL saw him sit out the rest of the season and his future was in doubt when he became a free agent this year, especially after the Saints’ high-profile pursuit of Deshaun Watson. But with the Cleveland Browns eventually getting their man, Winston is back in the frame and if he can stay fit and firing, it could be worth placing a wager on him to guide the Saints into the play-offs, on one of the websites offering NFL best odds.
Defensive tackle Johnson was picked up by the Saints for their 2021 summer training camp and had been set to start the season with them, before the Houston Texans poached him at the last minute to provide cover. He’s a practiced journeyman of the sport and has always put in reliable performances wherever he’s been, with last season’s 12 quarterback pressures only bettered by David Onyemata in the Saints’ 2021 squad. As such, he could be the perfect budget option to take the pressure off Onyemata this time around.
Another low-key signing by the Saints arose in late March in the shape of experienced safety Daniel Sorensen. With eight seasons in the NFL under his belt, Sorensen represents a safe pair of hands in the roster and although unlikely to start, he can play a part in special teams and in defensive situations. His yearly salary of $1.12 million (plus a $152,500 signing-on bonus) barely makes a dent in the Saints salary cap and as such, he’s a sensible back-up player who brings bags of experience to their locker room.
Which of the Saints’ signings are you most excited about this year? Will they help catapult the franchise to success in 2023? Let us know your thoughts below.