Roster building essentially done, Saints enjoy a round of golf before OTAs tee off
KENNER – New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis and head coach Dennis Allen were joined by numerous players and alumni for the 30th Saints Hall of Fame Celebrity Golf Tournament Monday morning.
The annual event united the franchise’s past, present and future at Chateau Golf and Country Club just eight days before the 2023 team begins OTAs.
“I love this event,” Loomis said before teeing off at 9 a.m. “It’s not really the golf, it’s getting to see people that you haven’t seen for a while and check in on them. That’s the best part about it.”
Multiple generations of Saints alumni were represented by Hall of Famers such as special teamers Fred McAfee, Michael Lewis and Tyrone Hughes, running back Deuce McAllister, offensive lineman Jim Dombrowski and defensive lineman Joe Johnson – as well as many other familiar names.
But it was the expectations for the current crop of Saints, especially the newcomers, that dominated interviews with Loomis and Allen as the Saints try to end a two-year playoff drought.
The Saints have had a busy offseason, bringing in a new quarterback (Derek Carr), and adding several other veteran free agents – defensive tackles Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders, running back Jamaal Williams, tight end Foster Moreau, wide receiver Bryan Edwards, safeties Johnathan Abram and Ugo Amadi, cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. and tackle Storm Norton – to address needs that surfaced as the team went 7-10 last season as well as others that developed due to losses in free agency
In addition the Saints addressed other needs with their seven draft choices – the most picks they have utilized in one draft since 2018.
“We feel really good about the additions to the team,” Allen said. “We lost some good players, but we felt like we replaced them with some pretty quality football players both through free agency and the draft.
“Now it’s really just time to go to work and start building toward the season and getting ready to put a good product on the field this year.”
Loomis spoke publicly for the first time since the start of the draft, which brought defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (No. 1), defensive end Isaiah Foskey (No. 2), running back Kendre Miller (No. 3), offensive lineman Nick Saldiveri (No. 4), quarterback Jake Haener (No. 4) defensive back Jordan Howden (No. 5) and wide receiver A.T. Perry (No. 6).
“In the draft you have probably 20 guys that you kind of have targeted and generally you’re going to end up getting a good portion of them, but not every pick,” Loomis said, “and I felt like every pick is someone that we had targeted within that group.”
The Saints appear to be done with the heavy lifting, but they still have a handful of spots to fill on the roster. On Monday they worked out former Steelers wide receiver James Washington, who played in just two games with the Cowboys last season because of a foot injury. Reportedly the Saints agreed to terms with Washington later in the day.
“There were some things that we saw previous to (the injury) in terms of just speed down the field, kind of a guy than can get vertical into the defense,” Allen said.
The roster will feature a lot of new faces, including several really important ones, when the voluntary OTAs begin.
“We go into the offseason with this list of things we want to get accomplished and I felt like we accomplished the majority of them,” Loomis said. “Now it’s wait and see. It’s like these drafts.
“You can feel good about your draft. You see all of these draft grades, but let’s just be honest: the draft’s success or failure is just based upon the performance of the players. We’ve got to put them in a position to be successful and I think we’ll do that and we’ll see how it turns out.”
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…