(NEW ORLEANS, La.) — On January 20th, 2019, the City of New Orleans entered into an indefinite period of pure Shock and Awe as the Saints were defeated in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome by the Los Angeles Refs, er Rams, by a score of 26-23 in overtime. The game featured the most infamous play in New Orleans Saints history, as Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman obliterated Saints WR Tommylee Lewis before the ball arrived, which should have been an easy Pass Interference penalty. However, after the whistle was blown and the ball had fallen to the turf, the yellow penalty flag stayed in Line Judge Gary Cavaletto’s pocket.
Had this penalty been called, the Saints would have had the ball on the one yard line in a 1st and Goal situation, with three plays to kneel and run down the clock, all before sending Kicker Wil Lutz onto the field for the game winning Field Goal. The final score should have been 23-20, and the Saints should be playing in Atlanta on February 3rd. But, just as in life, in football not everything will go your way. This one hurts, but the Saints and the City must move on and regroup for next year.
Now that the 2018 season is over, we can focus on the 2019 off-season. The thing the Saints’ Fans feared most towards the end of the season was the uncertainty that future First-Ballot Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees would be back for his 18th season next year. We now know that Drew will once again be quarterbacking the Saints next year. But the uncertainty still lies in the future of the Quarterback position for the Saints. Will the next QB be recently-traded-a-third-round-draft-pick-for-back-up Teddy Bridgewater? Or will it be the Saints’ Swiss Army Knife, Taysom Hill? With no draft pick in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft (the Saints traded up last year to pick DE Marcus Davenport, sending this year’s pick to the Green Bay Packers), the Saints will have to rely on free agency to fill their largest hole on this team: Tight End.
Before we get into adding new players, we must take a look at the key players who were on the roster whose contracts are expiring. These players consist of:
Player– S, Chris Banjo — Cap Hit in 2018= $1,550,000
Case– I personally believe Banjo is an integral part of our Special Teams and our 2nd team defense.
Verdict– If we can’t find someone in the draft to replace him, we must resign Banjo. He is not only an important Special Teams’ Player, but an important part of the Locker Room.
Player– QB, Teddy Bridgewater — Cap Hit in 2018= $2,290,000
Case– Bridgewater could be the future QB of the New Orleans Saints. Oh, and did I mention we gave up a third round pick to trade for him?
Verdict– The Saints are obviously going to resign Teddy. He is their QB of the future. Sorry Taysom Hill fans.
Player– WR, Dez Bryant — Cap Hit in 2018= $588,235
Case– Dez only practiced three times for the Saints in 2018 before tearing his Achilles. He is a former Pro Bowl Wide Receiver, and could help the Saints in the future.
Verdict– Bryant isn’t a lock to be resigned, but if he is looking to win a Super Bowl, he may want to stick around. I think what ever left over Cap Space we have after resigning a few of the other players could determine Bryant’s future in New Orleans. If he is resigned though, catch me at the Dome rocking a Bryant #88 jersey on game-days.
Player– OT, Jermon Bushrod — Cap Hit in 2018= $592,941
Case– Bushrod is older, but is a valuable veteran presence in our locker room full of young talent. Bushrod also stepped in for the injured Terron Armstead a few times this year, filling the void well.
Verdict– For me, this is a lock. A veteran who knows the offense for the league minimum. Resign please.
Player– CB, Ken Crawley — Cap Hit in 2018= $631,668
Case– In 2017, Crawley had a breakout season, but in 2018 he was less than impressive. I’ll even say less than mediocre. He led the Saints to trading for Giants CB Eli Apple, and was practically benched towards the end of the season.
Verdict– We should let Crawley walk, as he is extremely expendable after this season. We can easily find a replacement this offseason in the draft or as an Undrafted Free Agent.
Player– DT, Tyeler Davison — Cap Hit in 2018= $1,961,307
Case– Since the Saints selected Davison in the Fifth Round of the 2015 NFL Draft, he has been a solid player for New Orleans. He is also a great pairing with fellow DT Sheldon Rankins in the middle.
Verdict– Resign Davison. He is a solid starter for the Saints and will continue to help this young D-Line grow.
Player– RB, Mark Ingram — Cap Hit in 2018= $5,303,824
Case– Ingram has been a mainstay of the Saints’ running game since he was drafted in 2011. He, along with star RB Alvin Kamara, have had career years’ each of the past two seasons.
Verdict– Ingram is a lock to be resigned. There is no way Loomis lets Ingram walk. If the Saints want to be back next year, they will resign Ingram.
Player– WR, Tommylee Lewis — Cap Hit in 2018= $631,668
Case– Lewis’ role has decreased over the past few seasons with the Saints with the addition of other Wide Receivers. This offseason will be no different, plus if Dez Bryant comes back.
Verdict– This one is tough. Lewis was a good returner for the Saints, but other players have come in and taken his role. He could walk, and he probably will, but its up to Loomis.
Player– K, Wil Lutz — Cap Hit in 2018= $630,000
Case– Lutz has been one of the most accurate Kickers in the NFL. That should be enough to resign Lutz to a multi-year deal.
Verdict– Another lock to be resigned here.
Player– LB, Craig Robertson — Cap Hit in 2018= $2,000,000
Case– Robertson has been a very important piece of the Saints’ success these past two years. This past season, he didn’t play as much with the arrival of LB Demario Davis, but he play a lot on Special Teams and was one of the Saints’ Defensive Captains. Robertson is one of the leaders of this team and should not be let go.
Verdict– The Saints should definitely look into resigning Robertson, however, I don’t think we should spend too much to keep him. If possible, resign him for less and sign another productive Linebacker to really solidify the Saints’ run defense.
Player– LB, Manti Te’o — Cap Hit in 2018= $2,800,000
Case– Te’o is a great locker room presence for the Saints’. He spent most of last season on injured reserve, but when he did play he made a lot of noise. Te’o is expensive, but he is worth the money.
Verdict– Resign Te’o. He is a valuable commodity to have for the Saints’ defense, and when healthy, can absolutely wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
Player– CB, P.J. Williams — Cap Hit in 2018= $906,657
Case– Williams really came into his own playing in the slot this season for the Saints. After a rough start and an injury to 2018 free agent signing CB Patrick Robinson, Williams was one of the best tackling corners in the NFL. Williams also had a great pick-six against the Vikings in Minnesota on Sunday Night Football.
Verdict– This is probably one of the biggest question marks for the Saints this offseason. With Patrick Robinson coming back next year, do the Saints need to resign Williams? I think yes. Cornerback is one of the hardest positions to play consistently in the NFL, and this is something the Saints know too well. I think the Saints keep Williams around for two more seasons at most.
The Saints have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. Will Mickey Loomis trade up in the first round and pick up someone in the draft to make the Tight End position solid again? Or will the Saints sign a big name in Free Agency? Loomis has a lot of work to do this offseason, but resigning the key assets is the first step to making it to the big game next season.
Proving Them Right (Again) is a series on the New Orleans Saints 2019 Offseason written by Paper Wolf Editor-in-Chief Spencer Fox highlighting the biggest moves and explaining how the Saints will make it to Super Bowl LIV in Miami next season.