Free Agents Offering Hope

Saints roster has the team positioned for success

Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.


The New Orleans Saints’ 2023 offseason seemed to get off to a tumultuous start as a second line of well-known players not only sashayed out of town, but several went to division rivals.

Early on, it looked as if the team’s strategy was to rebuild the once-dominant offense at the expense of the recently surging defense. But, as always, team general manager Mickey Loomis started making deals. As a result, the Saints were able to restructure several veteran players’ contracts and sign several free agents, turning initial despair into faith and hope.

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Free agency began with three-quarters of the defensive line leading the parade when end Marcus Davenport signed with the Vikings and tackle David Onyemata moved to the Atlanta Falcons, while Shy Tuttle joined the Carolina Panthers. The defense also lost linebacker Kaden Elliss to Atlanta and safety Justin Evans to the Philadelphia Eagles. Starting QB Andy Dalton took off for Carolina, WR Marquez Callaway joined former Saints head coach Sean Payton in Denver, and punt/kick returner Deonte Harty joined the Buffalo Bills.

The player exodus was compounded by losses on the sideline, including co-defensive coordinator and line coach Ryan Nielsen (who will be DC in Atlanta), co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Kris Richard, tight end coach Dan Roushar, assistant tight end coach Declan Doyle, assistant offensive line coach Zach Strief, and assistant defensive backs coach Cory Robinson.

The team was able to restructure contracts for QB/TE Taysom Hill, RB Alvin Kamara, C Erik McCoy, T Ryan Ramczyk, G Andrus Peat, DE Cam Jordan, LB Demario Davis, DBs Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye, CB Marshon Lattimore, and K Wil Lutz, allowing them to stay on the team, and re-signed QB Jameis Winston, WRs Michael Thomas and Keith Kirkwood, TE Juwan Johnson, G Calvin Throckmorton, DT Malcolm Roach, DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, LB Andrew Dowell, CB Isaac Yiadom and S J.T. Gray.

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All of this allowed the Saints enough salary cap room to sign several free agents, including QB Derek Carr, RB Jamaal Williams, WR Bryan Edwards, OT Storm Norton, DTs Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders, LB Ty Summers, and DBs Ugo Amadi, Lonnie Johnson, and Johnathan Abram.

No doubt, Carr’s signing was the biggest addition of the offseason, and the team has to be encouraged by the response Thomas showed when the Saints landed their new QB. Williams — a powerful runner who led the NFL with 17 rushing TDs last season — will pair nicely in the backfield with Kamara and can handle the load if Kamara is suspended for a Las Vegas fight during the 2022 Pro Bowl.

After an underwhelming 7-10 season in 2022, the revamped Saints are being talked about as a potential playoff team and, with Tom Brady’s retirement from Tampa, possibly the best team in the NFC South. It would be quite a turnaround for head coach Dennis Allen.

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2023-2024 Saints

While Biz New Orleans had to go to press before the 2023 NFL Draft, it is likely many of the top-of-the-roster position battles going into offseason practices and training camp are relatively settled:

Offense

QB – Derek Carr, Jameis Winston
RB – Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams
WR – Chris Olave, Keith Kirkwood
WR – Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith
WR – Rashid Shaheed
TE – Juwan Johnson, Adam Trautman
ATL – Taysom Hill
FB – Adam Prentice
LT – Trevor Penning, James Hurst
LG – Andrus Peat, Calvin Throckmorton
C – Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz
RG – Cesar Ruiz, Calvin Throckmorton
RT – Ryan Ramczyk, Landon Young

Defense

LE – Cameron Jordan, Tanoh Kpassagnon
DT – Nathan Shepherd, Prince Emili
DT – Khalen Saunders, Malcolm Roach
RE – Carl Granderson, Payton Turner
MLB – Demario Davis, D’Marco Jackson
WLB – Pete Werner, Andrew Dowell
SLB –  Zack Baun, Ryan Connelly
LCB – Paulson Adebo
SS – Marcus Maye, J.T. Gray
FS – Tyrann Mathieu
RCB – Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor

Special Teams

K – Wil Lutz
P/H – Blake Gillikin
K/PR – Rashid Shaheed
LS – Zach Wood

 

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