Expect Rashid Shaheed To Be An Even Bigger Threat For New Orleans Saints Offense This Season

Misused by the previous offensive coaches, Rashid Shaheed could have a huge season in a new Saints offense
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
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The New Orleans Saints had an unceremonious parting of ways with WR Michael Thomas this offseason. Thomas is still a viable offensive weapon, but had also become a divisive presence within the team and had missed 47 of 67 games over four years with injuries.


New Orleans is expected to employ a new offensive system under newly hired coordinator Klint Kubiak. Even with Thomas gone, there should be plenty of pass catching weapons at wide receiver for Kubiak and QB Derek Carr to utilize.


Wideout Chris Olave, just 24, will be the unit's top target after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. Joining him will be second-year WR A.T. Perry after a promising rookie season, along with free-agent addition Cedrick Wilson and rookie fifth-round pick Bub Means.


There is also a rapidly rising star at the position who might be the biggest beneficiary to Kubiak's arrival to the offense.


Rashid Shaheed, WR

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) runs a punt back for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) runs a punt back for a touchdown against the Green Bay Packers / Mark Hoffman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Shaheed arrived to the Saints as an undrafted rookie out of Weber State in 2022. The unheralded wideout immediately made a huge impression in training camp and throughout the preseason to earn a spot on the team. After not playing in the first five games of his rookie year, Shaheed got his opportunity after an injury to WR/KR Deonte Harty.


With his second touch as a pro, first ever on the offensive side, Shaheed took a jet sweep 44 yards for a touchdown. On his first NFL reception a week later, Shaheed pulled in a 53-yard scoring pass. While that torrid pace wouldn't continue, Shaheed played well enough to earn more snaps and was a starter alongside Chris Olave by the end of the 2022-23 regular season.


As a rookie, Shaheed caught 28 of his 38 targets over 12 games for 488 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that came over the last six games, when he pulled in 22 passes for 377 yards. He also rushed four times for 57 yards and a score while averaging nearly 23 yards per kickoff return and 10 yards per punt return.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) makes a touchdown reception against Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant (27)
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) makes a touchdown reception against Atlanta Falcons safety Richie Grant (27) / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Entering 2023, Shaheed would be a bigger part of the offense. Even with Olave and Thomas at receiver and other weapons like RB Alvin Kamara and TE Juwan Johnson, he'd be an important playmaker for the attack throughout the season.


Shaheed had 46 receptions for 719 yards and five touchdowns on 75 targets in his second season. He tied Olave for the team lead in scoring receptions, was second in receiving yardage, and third in catches and targets. His 153 yards against Indianapolis in Week 3 was a career-best and he also had seven rushes for 37 yards.


Shaheed was just as explosive as a returner. He averaged nearly 14 yards on punt returns, scoring once on a 76-yard run back, while averaging almost 22 yards on kickoff returns. Those numbers earned him 1st Team All-Pro honors as a returner.


The 25-year-old Shaheed is one of the fastest players in the NFL. His game-breaking speed and deep ball skills make him one of the most feared deep ball targets in the league. He's also extremely elusive in the open field with excellent vision and a lethal burst, as evidenced by his career average of nearly 12 yards per punt return.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) runs after a reception against the New York Giants
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (22) runs after a reception against the New York Giants / Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

What doesn't get talked about enough is Shaheed's route running skills. He's shown the agility and route precision to get separation on short and intermediate routes against even the top corners in the league. A threat to all three levels of a defense, Shaheed has frankly been misused throughout his short career.


Former offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael used Shaheed primarily as a deep threat, often overlooking his skill as a route runner. Carmichael also rarely took advantage of Shaheed's explosive running ability. Shaheed has only 11 career rushing attempts and wasn't often used on WR screens, where he could be a lethal threat.


Expect Klint Kubiak to fully use the many skills that Shaheed can add to an offense. At 6-feet and 180-Lbs., Shaheed isn't as physically imposing as the versatile weapon that Kubiak had in San Francisco with 6-feet and 215-Lb. Deebo Samuel. However, Shaheed is just as fast and may be an even more elusive open field runner.


Rashid Shaheed will continue to be a deep ball threat for the New Orleans Saints. With Kubiak's more diverse attack, Shaheed should be an even more dangerous weapon for the Saints in a variety of different ways this season.


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Bob Rose

BOB ROSE

Covers the New Orleans Saints as a senior writer for the Saints News Network.  Co-Host of the Bayou Blitz Podcast.