May 27, 2024

The New Orleans Saints face significant challenges this offseason, and the most pressing need they must address is the improvement of their offensive line. General Manager Mickey Loomis and the cap-strained Saints are confronted with critical decisions following a lackluster 2023 campaign, where they finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season.

Despite being in the relatively weak NFC South, the Saints find themselves in a precarious position of mediocrity, lacking the prowess to contend for a Super Bowl while also missing out on top draft picks. Purgatorial mediocrity poses challenges, and the Saints’ offense, despite ranking ninth overall and 13th defensively, struggled noticeably throughout the season, leading to the dismissal of offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.

The primary offseason need for the Saints is bolstering their offensive line. The inadequacy of the offensive line hampered their ability to create running lanes and adequately protect quarterback Derek Carr. Carr, in his first year with the Saints, posted respectable statistics, but his inconsistent play was influenced by frequent pressure from opposing defensive lines. The Saints’ struggles were evident in their rankings, finishing 21st in the NFL for the passing game, second to last in yards per attempt, and lacking a 100-yard rusher throughout the season.

With pending free agents on their offensive line, including three-time Pro Bowler Andrus Peat, the Saints face challenges due to limited cap space. While it’s unlikely they retain most of their pending free agents, including Peat, they still need to fill key positions on their offensive line. Potential targets in free agency include left tackle Trent Brown, right tackle Jonah Williams, right tackle Mike Onwenu, and Mekhi Becton. However, the Saints must consider their cap constraints when pursuing these players.

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Despite limited draft picks, with only five in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, the Saints possess first and second-round selections. Allocating one of these picks to address the offensive line is crucial, even though the draft class might not feature top-tier linemen. Exploring cost-effective options in the draft becomes essential if financial constraints hinder free-agent pursuits.

While the salary cap situation poses challenges, the Saints cannot afford to neglect upgrading their offensive line in the offseason. Failure to address this critical need may result in a more challenging season in 2024, and fans may witness a further decline in performance.

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