With offseason moves, Saints already look more interesting

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Gayle Benson, Heather Car,r, Derek Carr
Mar 11, 2023; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints chief executive office Gayle Benson poses with New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) and wife Heather Carr and daughter Brooklyn Carr and son Dallas Carr and son Deakon Carr and son Deker Carr at Ochsner Sports Performance Center (Photo: Stephen Lew).

The biggest item for the Saints this offseason was to improve. Simple, right?

But if there was an item 1A, the Saints checked that box, too.

They are interesting again.

That’s correct. For much of 2022, the Saints were a boring football team.

New Orleans averaged 19.4 points a game, including only 5.7 points in the fourth quarter. In their last three games, their fourth quarter scoring was a putrid 2.3 points a game.

The Saints were terribly uninteresting.

Gone were the days when the opponents came into the Superdome and had to score 30 just to have a chance. All they had to do in 2022 was hang around because the Saints could not put them away.

In the eight Saints home games played at the Superdome, the Saints scored a total of 28 fourth quarter points and lost the fourth quarter in seven of those games. They played the Raiders to a scoreless tie in the fourth quarter in a game New Orleans dominated.

Call it what it was. Overall, it was bad football in 2022.

Now, give the Saints credit for doing something about it. This has turned out to be a very good offseason for the New Orleans offense.

The latest solid move was the acquisition of running back Jamaal Williams, formerly of the Lions, who led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season and recorded his first 1,000 yard rushing campaign. He comes at a very affordable price of $12 million over three years.

With plenty of tread left on his tires, Williams only has 915 carries in six NFL seasons. He may be put to heavy use when Saints starter is likely handed a multi-game suspension this season.

For value, there may not be a better free agent signing in the NFL.

The Saints had already convinced quarterback Derek Carr to come to New Orleans on a deal that is cap friendly for the team in the first year but still compensates Carr handsomely.

For some lagniappe, wide receiver Michael Thomas will return for at least one more season. Thomas, who is friends with Carr, will likely perform at a higher level than any rookie receiver the Saints could draft in April.

Michael Thomas
(Photo: Parker Waters)

The Saints biggest loss in free agency was linebacker Kaden Elliss to Atlanta, but he was compensated well. With Demario Davis and Pete Werner healthy, Elliss was likely blocked from a starting role here.

So, what do the Saints do now?

Well, they are still woefully thin at defensive tackle despite two free agent additions to replace a pair of outgoing starters this week. That position figures to be a huge priority in the draft.

In the NFC South, both the Panthers and the Falcons have been big spenders in free agency, but they still have huge voids at quarterback. Carolina will get a chance to fill that by trading with the Bears for the first overall pick but the price, was exorbitant. Atlanta will give unproven Desmond Ridder his chance to take the job in his second season.

So, at the start of the offseason, give the Saints a solid B-plus or better.

Reports of their demise and the wheels coming off seem to be quite premature.

To top it off, the Saints may, if they can get one more playmaker in the draft, be a quite fun team to watch in 2023.

Season ticket holders, who sat through some dreadful offensive performances, may actually start getting their money’s worth again.

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

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Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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