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Grading the Saints Tight End Performance in 2021

Several areas of the New Orleans offense were responsible for a plummet in the unit’s production.  Failures at the tight end position deserve a large share of the blame.
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Once the NFL's most dynamic offense, the New Orleans Saints fell on hard times in 2021. The Saints plummeted to 28th in total offense, including an abysmal dead last in passing production. It was by far the worst offensive performance in the 16-year tenure of head coach Sean Payton.

The offseason retirement of QB Drew Brees and season-long injury absence of All-Pro WR Michael Thomas were big blows to the unit. Making matters worse were a never-ending string of injuries to the offensive line and a season-ending knee injury to QB Jameis Winston.

The absence of Thomas exposed an alarming lack of talent at the receiver position that affected the team all year. At least wideouts Deonte Harty and Marquez Callaway made some plays and showed the potential to be legitimate weapons.

The same cannot be said for the New Orleans tight ends.

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Saints 2021 Position Grades

New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman (82)
Saints Juwan Johnson (83)
New Orleans Saints tight end Nick Vannett (81)
Garrett Griffin
Ethan Wolf

The Saints used Garrett Griffin and Ethan Wolf off the practice squad for some games, but with zero success. Griffin is nothing more than a blocker. The inexperienced Wolf showed enough potential to warrant a look for a backup spot next year.

Trautman, Johnson, and Vannett combined for 49 receptions and 555 yards in 2021. Nineteen NFL tight ends had equal or better productivity by themselves. It was by far the lowest production the Saints had from their tight ends since 2006, Payton's first year in New Orleans.

Wideout ineffectiveness and uncertainty at quarterback took much of the blame for failures of the passing attack this year. The putrid performance of the tight ends also deserve a large share of the blame.

New Orleans Saints TE Juwan Johnson

Inconsistencies from the position as blockers also forced the Saints to often use an extra offensive lineman. That made an already struggling unit more predictable. Expect a major upgrade at this spot this offseason.

Tight End Grade = F

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