The New Orleans Saints easily had one of the most surprising seasons and end of a season that any team could have had in the entire NFL. As their 2017 campaign comes to a close, many are wondering just what is in store for a team that doesn’t have their franchise quarterback under contract and has a lot of young players who have barely scratched the surface of their careers. Believe it or not, the future of the Saints is incredibly bright and 2018 could be even bigger for them.
After a heartbreaking defeat to the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Who Dat Nation is already looking ahead to next year. Usually, the fans of the Saints would let it fester a lot longer, but there is a lot to be excited about in the “Big Easy.”
First things first, though, and that is making sure the team even has a quarterback to lead them into the 2018 NFL regular season. As of the end of the postseason run for the Saints, Drew Brees is not under contract and neither is backup Chase Daniel and that poses a bit of a serious dilemma.
But, things may already be finding a way of working out for the NFC South champs clad in black and gold.
Will Drew Brees be back in New Orleans?
While there is still some negotiating to be done, Drew Brees does want to return to the Saints even as he just turned 39-years-old. He’s still playing at the top of his game and a 13th season in New Orleans is something that everyone seems to want, but as Bleacher Report reported, that is especially true for Brees.
“I’m hoping I’m a part of a few more that I feel that way about and we can make a run at it. Unfortunately, sometimes experience is a tough teacher, and things happen, and you can go one of two ways with it.
“Does it put you in the tank? Does it pull you apart? Or does it unite you and make you stronger and mold you and strengthen you? That’s the outlook I’m taking, and I think that’s the outlook that our entire team is taking.”
Brees is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, but he confirms that he wants to stay in New Orleans and he’s “excited for the future of Saints football.” Per his contract, the Saints can’t use the franchise tag on him, but look for him to be locked up sooner rather than later.
Who else may not return to New Orleans?
The one good thing about a lot of rookies playing such huge roles this season is that many of the key elements staying where they are. As of March 14, 2018, though, there are a great number of players who could become unrestricted free agents if not signed to new contracts before that time.
The list includes:
- QB Drew Brees
- QB Chase Daniel
- S Kenny Vaccaro
- S Rafael Bush
- G Senio Kelemete
- DE Alex Okafor
- DE George Johnson
- DE Kasim Edebali
- LB Gerald Hodges
- LB Michael Mauti
- TE Clay Harbor
- LB Jonathan Freeny
- DT John Hughes
- FB John Kuhn
- FB Zach Line
- G/C Josh LeRibeus
- DT Tony McDaniel
- CB Sterling Moore
- TE John Phillips
While each of these players contributed in some form or fashion, many of them actually spent a lot of time on injured reserve. The biggest names are obviously the two quarterbacks, Okafor, Kelemete, and Kenny Vaccaro. George Johnson was a late-season signing but ended up being a huge part of the improved defense.
What are the Saints’ biggest needs and what about the 2018 NFL Draft?
Right now, the Saints have a few big needs going into the 2018 season and most of them are on defense. Yes, they were vastly improved on that side of the ball, but they are even more stacked offensively. As reported by CBS Sports, the Saints could look to the NFL Draft for some hidden gems and depth.
- Defensive End
The Saints actually have a number of picks in the draft, but currently, don’t have one in the second or sixth round. They could land one in the sixth depending on the conditional pick that may come their way due to the Adrian Peterson trade to the Arizona Cardinals.
- Round One
- Round Three
- Round Four
- Round Five by way of the Miami Dolphins
- Round Six possibly by way of Arizona
- Round Seven
After the last NFL Draft, the Saints ended up with Marshon Lattimore, Alvin Kamara, Marcus Williams, Trey Hendrickson, Taysom Hill, and Ryan Ramczyk by way of undrafted free agents or picks. Ask any team in the league and they’ll be happy to have had that class.
Video by one of our employees who was on hand to welcome the @Saints home from the playoff trip. We are so proud of the entire team & Saints Organization, and we thank them so much for their year-round support. pic.twitter.com/RMVGsWSbIl
— 2ndHarvestGNOA (@2ndHarvestGNOA) January 15, 2018
That loss to the Minnesota Vikings was hard for anyone to take and it left the New Orleans Saints one tackle away from a trip to the NFC Championship Game. Now, they are preparing for the 2018 regular season and have a lot to be excited about as they move forward. Drew Brees is the biggest question mark right now, but other than him, the Who Dat Nation is in good shape and may have an even more successful season next year.