What's next for the New Orleans Saints?
NFL free agency isn't over, but most of the big moves have been made. The New Orleans Saints have had a good run thus far, and are sure to add a couple more players to the fold before the draft. However, they're currently in a good position to possibly add another free agent or two and have enough financially for their incoming draft class.
So, what's next for the Saints? As of right now, this is the scheduled calendar of events for the league in the month of April that's relevant to New Orleans.
- April 17: Deadline for Restricted Free Agents to sign offer sheets.
- April 20: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs.
- April 23-25: 2020 NFL Draft, location and setup TBD.
As it pertains to the Saints, the only restricted free agent that was tendered was Taysom Hill. The team placed a first-round tender, which is nearly $5 million for 2020. New Orleans could also work out a long-term deal for Hill, but that remains to be seen. With the rising threat of COVID-19, it's hard to see the Saints opening up their facilities in Metairie to conduct workout programs.
It'll be interesting to see if more XFL players latch on with professional clubs, as the team recently picked up Deatrick Nichols from the Houston Roughnecks. As of Saturday morning, the Saints have 61 players under contract and nearly $12 million in salary cap space, according to the NFLPA's Public Salary Cap Report. However, that clearly doesn't include some of the contracts and moves made. There's still a good bit of interesting names on the free agent market who could latch on later in the process when things hopefully return to normal.
New Orleans could also use some of this time to assess the futures of players who have expiring contracts this upcoming season. Players like Demario Davis, Sheldon Rankins, Alvin Kamara, Larry Warford, and Marcus Williams are some of the many set to become free agents in 2021. The Saints became the first team to officially pick up the fifth-year options of Ryan Ramczyk and Marshon Lattimore, which is sure to help them in what looks to be a two-year window of trying to get a Super Bowl to Drew Brees.
The draft is really where it's at from now until the end of April, as teams are having to be creative in their approach with potential prospects. FaceTime meetings have been held and will continue to be the norm for draft hopefuls. Normally, you'd have face-to-face pre-draft visits happening, but that won't be the case and could have a huge impact on team's selections. General manager Mickey Loomis has been vocal in his stance of delaying the draft, but Roger Goodell is poised to press on and warned those on speaking out.
"This is not a fantasy draft that you can conduct with just a list of things on a piece of paper. There's a lot of work that goes into it preparing and there's a lot of work that is done during the draft that, listen, it'll be very, very difficult to conduct that and do it in a way that you're doing justice to the process," Loomis said Wednesday on a podcast with Peter King. It came a day before Goodell's announcement.
The Saints have five draft picks for this year's draft, as they're without a second and seventh round selection. With the way things have played in free agency, the team could have as many as three compensatory picks for next season. New Orleans has shown a tendency to trade up in the draft to get their guy, not being shy to dip into future year's cookie jars to help. Ultimately, that'll be something to pay close attention to.
While this figures to be a big lull in the NFL offseason right now, there are ways to pass the time through mock drafts and free NFL Game Pass to re-watch some favorite Saints games from the past seasons. However things do play out leading up to the draft, we all just hope that we can get back to a sense of normalcy and look forward to when football returns.