The New Orleans Saints were among the teams that bounced back last season after suffering injury after injury with some of their most important players on the offensive side of the ball.
The Saints started with a 5-2 record but proceeded to account for a 4-6 streak through the remainder of their games. They were left out of the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and the season took a mental toll on head coach Sean Payton, who resigned on Jan. 25.
After a busy off-season of adjusting the salary cap, hiring full-time head coach Dennis Allen and pulling from a solid 2022 NFL Draft class, the Saints are ready to show the league they are a threat.
The addition of key talent was a highlight of the off-season for the Saints. Safetys Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye and wide receiver Jarvis Landry are three veteran additions that can impact the Saints on the field and off the field with leadership.
The Saints also acquired key players through the 2022 NFL Draft in Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave, Northern Iowa offensive tackle Trevor Penning and Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor. These players will look to contribute immediately, either as starters or as role players. Olave will be a diverse route-runner for New Orleans and look to relieve pressure from star wide receiver Michael Thomas. Penning is an immediate option to replace three-time Pro Bowler offensive tackle in Terron Armstead, who left via free agency to the Miami Dolphins. Finally, Taylor will look to contribute in his first year in the league as a supporting man-coverage defensive back.
The Saints re-signed quarterback Jameis Winston to a two-year, $28 million deal. Winston had gotten the Saints to a 5-2 record before tearing his ACL in Week Eight of the 2021 NFL Season. When Winston went down, the offense for the Saints encountered inconsistent performances from quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill and Ian Book. Winston is practicing with the Saints with no restrictions as he looks to get to his high-power passing form without the high number of interceptions that stalled his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
New Orleans has a complete roster they can rely on to compete with the NFC, which has gotten weaker this off-season. The biggest threats to the Saints are their rival in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by 15-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tom Brady. The Saints are tied with the Las Vegas Raiders for the seventh-best strength of schedule, based on their opponent's records last season. The Saints have an easier schedule than the Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champs in the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals.
Opponents of the Saints believe they have gotten better through this off-season by restabilizing the team. Sportsnaut believes they have gotten better this off-season, but not enough to secure a playoff spot as they have the Buccaneers winning the NFC South and missing out on a wild card spot. NFL's Jim Trotter has the Saints as the number one team to make the playoffs this upcoming 2022 NFL Season after missing the playoffs last season.
The Saints are a dangerous team when they are undervalued. They will try to prove themselves again in the upcoming 2022 NFL Season.