So, the Saints went out and signed one of the cornerbacks considered a young, up-and-coming defender in the NFL.
The question is this – now what?
The bad news for the Saints is there’s plenty of work to be done. The good news is there’s plenty of time to do it and that’s just free agency. And don’t forget about the draft.
New Orleans has beefed up its secondary with the addition of Keenan Lewis. The Saints have at least stood pat at linebacker by re-signing Junior Galette and restructuring Jonathan Vilma’s contract.
But the Saints needs more.
Here’s our take in what they need in what order.
Pass rusher (linebacker & defensive end)
This is less about a specific position and more about a specific need. The Saints still need a dynamic pass rusher, one who can pressure the quarterback like the team hasn’t been able to do in a long, long time.
This could come at outside linebacker, where there are players interested or who could help still available. Think Victor Butler or James Harrison. This could come at defensive end, where there also are players available. Think John Abraham or Osi Umenyiora.
But this also is a position that is deep in the draft. It’s also a position where those on the market will cost a team some money. And though Lewis signed what appears to be a cap-friendly contract, the Saints still are in cap peril; they have to have room to sign the rookies.
The key is they’ll need more than one of these players, which is why we should expect a combination of players through free agency and the draft.
Certainly the Saints have had a history of replacing offensive linemen with someone on roster
However, replacing Jermon Bushrod is a little different. Charles Brown doesn’t exactly instill confidence because he hasn’t remained healthy since he was drafted in 2010. Bryce Harris and Will Robinson were both stopgaps for New Orleans in 2012 and aren’t likely the solution. Marcel Jones was drafted in 2012 but isn’t ready to take over.
Brown is likely the on-roster solution. Outside, there’s Eric Winston, who was released by Kansas City; Max Starks, who is an unrestricted free agents; or Jake Long, an unrestricted free agent. Again, cost could be a problem.
Devery Henderson is not only a free agent, he’s up in age. If the Saints don’t get him back, they’re going to need another receiver. While Joe Morgan proved he could help a season ago, he’s not ready to work alone. And even if he could, the Saints still haven’t replaced Robert Meachem. Receiver is a long-term need for the Saints right now.
There aren’t a ton of solutions for this problem. At least not first-tier solutions. There are plenty of second-tier guys. Devin Aromashodu, a fifth-year receiver out of Auburn, has speed and is a big, physical receiver. There's also Ted Ginn of San Francisco or Darrius Heyward-Bey of Oakland.
This actually might be the least of New Orleans’ worries. If Drew Brees goes down, all bets are off regardless of who is the backup.
Still, you need a backup and this might be the easiest place for New Orleans to find someone. They’re not yet at the stage where they’re looking for a long-term so they can find a player who can help in the short-term.
Out there available: Jason Campbell, Luke McCown, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb. Regardless who it is, the Saints just need someone who can lead the scout team and hold for field goals and extra points.