New Orleans Saints 2023: High Hopes or Heartbreak?
Even though moves have already been taking place, the NFL's free agency period begins today. Teams across the league are planning, plotting, and to maximize their return for the 2023 season. The Saints have already made several moves, some good, some questionable.
Saints Players Staying
According to SaintsWire.com, here are some of the major free agency moves the Saints have made for this season.
- Feb. 25: Defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon. The veteran backup has played a big role in the rotation behind Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, and he could be in for a bigger role if Davenport leaves in free agency. He signed a two-year extension.
- March 10: Safety J.T. Gray. The special teams ace is returning on a three-year extension after earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl recognition in 2021. He’s led the team in tackles in the kicking game during each of the last two seasons.
- March 11: Tight end Juwan Johnson. The wide receiver-turned-tight end broke out in a big way with seven touchdown catches in 2022 and cashed in with a two-year contract extension. He made strides as a blocker last season after packing on 15 pounds of muscle over the summer.
- March 13: Quarterback Jameis Winston. He wasn’t a free agent, but the Saints asked Winston to either take a big pay cut or be released, and he opted to stay in town where he already knows the offense. His one-year, $8 million deal lines up well with what other backup quarterbacks around the league are making.
- March 14: Wide receiver Michael Thomas. He wasn’t a free agent either, but he feels like one, and the Saints are bringing him back on a one-year deal valued at $10 million with another $5 million available through incentives.
Saints Players Leaving
- March 13: Defensive tackle David Onyemata. ESPN’s Mike Garafolo reports that Onyemata has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons valued at $35 million, with $24.5 million in guarantees. Onyemata’s departure leaves behind $10.1 million in dead money on the books for New Orleans.
- March 13: Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Tuttle agreed to terms on a three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers valued at $19.5 million, with $13 million guaranteed at signing. Both of New Orleans’ top two defensive tackles are playing for NFC South rivals now.
- March 13: Linebacker Kaden Elliss. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Elliss has agreed to terms on a new deal with the Atlanta Falcons, where he’ll reunite with former Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.
- March 13: Defensive end Marcus Davenport. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero report that Davenport agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $13 million with the Minnesota Vikings.
- March 14: Quarterback Andy Dalton. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Dalton is expected to agree to terms on a two-year, $10 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.
- March 15: Wide receiver Deonte Harty. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Harty is expected to sign with the Buffalo Bills, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting the two-year deal is valued at up to $13.5 million.
Outside Free Agents SignedLas Vegas RaidersDerek Carr
The website NJBet.com lists 10 teams setup to be heartbreakers for 2023. And yes, the Saints made the list.
Their criteria includes the fact that the Saints record was worse in 2022 than 2021, as well as a high number of player injuries. Also taken into account is team age, number of 2023 Pro Bowl players, and Super Bowl wins in the last 10 years. But, take it with a grain of salt. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has helmed player/personell trades and changes for 23 years now. I have to have faith he has more information and knowledge about players and situations than I do.