In a recent rankings post that lists the most improved teams for the 2022 season, the New Orleans Saints were not recognized as one of those franchises that made significant changes to their roster. The rankings were written by CBS Sports NFL staff writer Bryan DeAdro. Here are a few excerpts of the teams that DeAdro ranked on his most improved ball clubs list this season.
1. Philadelphia Eagles
- Key additions: A.J. Brown, Haason Reddick, James Bradberry, Jordan Davis
“A wild card team last season, the Eagles seem primed to fly considerably higher in 2022. During the draft, GM Howie Roseman swung a trade that brought Brown, a former Pro Bowl wideout with the Titans. Brown joins an already talented offense led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, receiver DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell. The Eagles still possess one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, led by Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Jordan Mailata.
The Eagles made major additions to a defense that came on strong at the end of the ’21 season. They made a free agent splash with the signing of Reddick, who comes to Philadelphia after compiling 23.5 sacks over the past two seasons. They then threw salt on the Giants’ wounds by picking up Bradberry, who was waived by New York in May as part of a salary dump. The Eagles strengthened the middle of their defense by signing former Charger Kyzir White, who filled the stat sheet last season with 144 tackles, two interceptions, and a pair of forced fumbles.”
2. Los Angeles Chargers
“Last season, Brandon Staley joined the long list of former coordinators whose area of expertise ended up being his team’s Achilles’ heel. While his offense ranked fifth in scoring last season, the Rams‘ former defensive coordinator watched his team surrender the fourth-most points in the NFL.
Staley and the Chargers’ front office addressed the issue by trading for Mack, one of the NFL’s premier inside linebackers, and forked over a hefty amount of money to acquire Jackson, who was arguably the top cornerback on the market. Staley will also get a chance to reunite with DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, a former Ram who recorded a career-high in sacks last year despite appearing in just seven games.”
3. New York Jets
- Key additions: Sauce Gardner, Jordan Whitehead, Jermaine Johnson II, Garrett Wilson, Laken Tomlinson
“Jets fans look at optimism the way golfers look at sand traps. New York fans haven’t given its fans much to cheer about since Rex Ryan roamed the sidelines, but that might change sometime in the near future after GM Joe Douglas added significant pieces to New York’s roster.
Douglas has equipped second-year QB Zach Wilson with a talented receiving corps that includes Wilson, Elijah Moore (a second-round pick in 2021), Corey Davis, Braxton Berrios, and former Bengal C.J Uzomah. Also at Wilson’s disposal is an equally deep backfield, led by Michael Carter, rookie Breece Hall and former 49er Tevin Coleman. Coleman will reunite in New York with Tomlinson, a 2021 Pro Bowler with the 49ers who signed a three-year deal with Gang Green during free agency.”
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
“Kevin Colbert was masterful in his final months as the Steelers’ GM. He was able to lock up one of the top quarterback free agents (Trubisky) during the initial moments of the legal tampering period. The Steelers would further add to their QB room by drafting Pickett, who is projected to be the team’s long-term starter while Trubisky is slated to be Ben Roethlisberger’s initial successor. The Steelers also drafted Chris Oladokun, an interesting QB prospect (he played at three different colleges) who gives them flexibility as it relates to Mason Rudolph’s future with the club.
Offensive line was a major issue for Pittsburgh in 2021. Colbert addressed it by signing two young, affordable interior linemen — Mason Cole and James Daniels — who between them have more than 110 regular-season games and nearly 90 starts under their belt. Cole and Daniels should help Najee Harris far exceed his 3.9 yards-per-carry average as a rookie.”
5. Cincinnati Bengals
“The defending AFC champions aggressively addressed last season’s biggest weakness by signing veteran offensive linemen Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins. This trio should make life significantly better for Joe Burrow, who led the Bengals to an AFC title last season despite getting sacked a whopping 70 times (including the postseason). Despite last year’s subpar protection, Burrow led the NFL in completion percentage while taking full advantage of a deep receiving corps that includes Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. The Bengals gave Burrow a new weapon — tight end Hayden Hurst — to replace the departed Uzomah.
Like the offensive line, the Bengals invested in their secondary this offseason, using the draft to acquire defensive backs Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt, and Tycen Anderson. Hill should immediately compete for a starting job, while Taylor-Britt and Anderson could take snaps from Eli Apple and Vonn Bell. The Bengals’ young defensive backs will get a chance to learn from savvy veterans Mike Hilton and Jessie Bates III.”
The selections of the Bengals, Jets, and Eagles are all legitimate choices for being ranked as having one of the league’s most improved teams. But to say that the Steelers roster is vastly improved over the Saints’ is debatable.
The quarterback position for Pittsburgh could hold the Steelers back for the 2022 season. And that’s with the playmakers that the Steelers have at the wide receiver and running back positions. In addition, Trubsiky will be playing in a brutal division that will feature teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, and the Cleveland Browns. Even though it was a small sample size in 2021, QB Jameis Winston led the Saints to a 5-2 record.
He was on his way to an MVP-caliber year before he suffered a season-ending injury while playing against his former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Before the injury, Winston had thrown 14 TDS against three interceptions. New Orleans addressed vital areas of their team in the offseason by signing former LSU Tigers in wide receiver Jarvis Landry and safety Tyrann Mathieu. During the NFL Draft, the Saints moved up to the 11th spot to select wide receiver Chris Olave out of Ohio State.
Olave will be joining an already talented receiver core that will feature the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Michael Thomas. The addition of Mathieu enhances a dynamic secondary with playmakers such as Marshon Lattimore, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, P.J. Williams, and second-year corner Paulson Adebo. In addition, former New York Jet Marcus Maye will assume the role of free safety that Marcus Williams previously held. Williams signed with the Baltimore Ravens during the free agency period.
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