After a fourth consecutive playoff disappointment, the New Orleans Saints had their most eventful offseason in many years.
The Saints have won four straight NFC South titles, but have a 3-4 postseason record over that span with just one NFC Championship Game appearance.
New Orleans dealt with serious salary cap issues this offseason. They had to release several players, but were able to restructure the deals of some of their veterans.
Legendary quarterback Drew Brees retired this March after a record-breaking career and nine playoff appearances in 15 seasons. Without Brees, the Saints will have a new quarterback behind center for the first time since 2005.
Because of salary cap constraints, the team wasn't able to be extremely active in free agency, but made a strong effort to keep one of the league's most talented rosters intact.
With NFL training camps officially a month away, here's a recap of the Saints’ player movement this offseason.
SAINTS PLAYERS LOST
- QB - Drew Brees (retired)
- FB - Michael Burton (Chiefs)
- WR - Emmanuel Sanders (Bills)
- TE - Jared Cook (Chargers)
- TE -Josh Hill (Lions/retired)
- G - Nick Easton (free agent)
- DT - Sheldon Rankins (Jets)
- DT - Malcom Brown (Jaguars)
- DE - Trey Hendrickson (Bengals)
- LB - Kwon Alexander (free agent)
- LB - Alex Anzalone (Lions)
- LB - Craig Robertson (free agent)
- CB - Janoris Jenkins (Titans)
- CB - Justin Hardee (Jets)
- P - Thomas Morstead (free agent)
SAINTS PLAYERS RE-SIGNED
- QB - Jameis Winston
- RB/WR - Ty Montgomery
- RB - Dwayne Washington
- T/G - James Hurst
- G/C - Will Clapp
- DE - Noah Spence
- DB - J.T. Gray
- DB - P.J. Williams
SAINTS PLAYERS ADDED
- FB - Alex Armah (Panthers)
- WR - Jalen McCleskey (Falcons/free agent)
- C/G - Christian Montano (Steelers/free agent)
- DE - Tanoh Kpassagnon (Chiefs)
SAINTS DRAFT SELECTIONS
- Round 1 = DE - Payton Turner (Houston)
- Round 2 = LB - Pete Werner (Ohio State)
- Round 3= CB - Paulson Adebo (Stanford)
- Round 4= QB - Ian Book (Notre Dame)
- Round 6 = OT - Landon Young (Kentucky)
- Round 7 = WR - Kawaan Baker (South Alabama)
The Saints will be breaking in new starters at ten different positions in 2021, testing the depth of one of the NFL's deepest teams.
Rapid development is needed from 2021 draftees Adebo, Werner, and Turner as well as 2020 draft picks G Cesar Ruiz, TE Adam Trautman, and LB Zack Baun.
All eyes will be on the quarterback position, where Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will battle for who steps into the gargantuan shoes of Brees.
Three other positions to watch closely are cornerback, linebacker, and wide receiver. The Saints have three superstars in WR Michael Thomas, LB Demario Davis, and CB Marshon Lattimore but questionable depth around them.
New Orleans currently has approximately $5.8 million dollars of salary cap space. They may bring back Kwon Alexander or sign a veteran cornerback to bolster that position. Otherwise the team's roster is set as they move toward the start of training camp.
The Saints weren't able to make any ‘‘splashy'' offseason moves because of the salary cap, and are moving forward without several familiar faces.
Despite the personnel losses, this team still has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball for another playoff push in 2021.
Follow Bob Rose on Facebook or on Twitter @bobbyr2613.