At the start of the season, it looked like the New Orleans Saints were on their way to another playoff push when they demolished the Green Bay Packers 38-3 in Week 1. At one point, the team had a 5-2 record and seemed poised to win the NFC South once again. However, injuries, covid-19 outbreaks, and player suspensions eventually sealed the Saints’ fate in 2021. Also, let’s not forget that New Orleans fell short against a New York Giants team that finished the season at 4-13.
Another head-scratching loss was against hated rival the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9. If the Saints did not lose those two games, they would have been more comfortable for a postseason berth. New Orleans would rally to win four out of their last five games to position themselves for a playoff push.
However, they did not get the outside help they needed to advance to the tournament due to the 17-point meltdown by the Los Angeles Rams in Week 18. During the 2021 campaign, there were a lot of glaring holes that will need to be addressed this offseason. Today, we will preview the Saints 2022 offseason and break down the salary cap, team needs, and much more.
Salary Cap Space: Projected $63 Million Over the Cap
How often do you usually hear folks on the outside looking in speak on the Saints salary cap situation? You will listen to sayings such as “the Saints are in salary cap hell” or “what money do they have” to sign a specific player.
General manager Mickey Loomis has been in this type of situation before, and he will find ways to allow the Saints to remain competitive despite cap restraints. According to Over the Cap, the Saints are projected to be $63,133,963 over the league’s salary cap. That’s a rough number, but it’s nowhere near the 101 million that the team was over in 2021.
New Orleans has gotten within league compliance with the cap by restructuring deals with their current players or by simply parting ways. Salary cap constraints should be the least of the Saints’ concerns. The real issue will be how the new influx of talent is going to perform if the team decides to move on from impact players that are on the roster.
Pending Free Agents
Two of the biggest names on the list are Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams. Both players are projected to earn significant paydays once the free agency period begins in March. The big question is going to be if those paydays are going to come from the Saints or from another team. Players on defense such as Kwon Alexander and P.J. Williams are also intriguing names that are this list as well. Williams production improved significantly in 2021.
He made numerous plays throughout the season that would set the Saints up for success in a few games this year. However, was that enough to compel New Orleans to award Williams with a new contract beyond one-year? Will the Saints strong culture be enough to lure Alexander back to New Orleans on a cheaper deal? We will get the answers to these questions very soon.
Saints’ Team Needs for 2022
The Saints had four different starting quarterbacks that saw action in 2021. The most successful of the four was Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. The two signal-callers had a combined record of 9-3. Did both players provide an adequate sample size that would convince the Saints front office to run it back for another season? Meaning, Winston as the starting QB and Hill assuming the backup role.
Rumors have been swirling since the start of the season about Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers being linked to the Saints. Those reports can be inaccurate, or there could be validity to those rumors. If both QBs stay put with their teams, that’s where things could be interesting for New Orleans.
The wide receiver position was where the Saints were impacted at the most in regards to offensive production. Michael Thomas missed the entire season due to surgery conducted on his ankle in June. The all-pro wideout’s injury occurred at the start of the 2020 campaign against Tampa Bay, but the surgery to properly fix the damage did not happen until the summer of 2021.
There are lots of mixed discussions on whether Thomas will remain in a Saints uniform for the foreseeable future. Even if he stays in New Orleans, they still need a viable number two option at the receiver position. They can accomplish this in many ways, such as the draft and free agency.
Mark Ingram has accomplished a lot during his time in New Orleans. He recently became the Saints’ all-time leading rusher when he passed the great Deuce McCallister up on the list. However, he’s on the other side of 30, and the Saints may need to consider other options. The team needs a running back that is bigger, faster, and durable enough to carry the load in certain situations.
Tony Jones Jr does not provide the spark the Saints need to accomplish those tasks. Imagine the Saints’ playoff hopes would have turn out if they had a younger, more powerful, and reliable tailback that could carry the load. At the same time, Alvin Kamara recovered from his injury and the Saints went on a five-game losing streak.
If the front office decides to let Armstead pursue the free agency route in March, then the left tackle position will become one of the top priorities that they will have to address.
If both P.J. and Marcus Williams part ways with the Saints, you can add safety to the list of top priorities that they will have to address along with quarterback, wide receiver, and left tackle.
Saints’ 2022 NFL Draft picks
- Round 1 (Pick 18)
- Round 2 (Pick 17)
- Round 3 (Pick 34 & 35)
- Round 4 (Pick 15)
- Round 5 (Pick 18)
- Round 7 (Pick 16)
New Orleans could use those picks as capital to move up in the draft if there’s a prospect that they really love.
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