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Mike Detillier: The offseason has started for the Saints

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By Mike Detillier / Sports Correspondent

With the 2018 season over, it is time to start looking into what the New Orleans Saints need to upgrade their football team in 2019.

Who knows what happens with free agents like halfback Mark Ingram, back-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, nickel-cornerback P.J. Williams and defensive end Alex Okafor, but on the surface, the biggest areas to upgrade would be at tight end, wide receiver, cornerback and safety.

But I believe the biggest spot to spend money will be at defensive tackle.

In the Mickey Loomis/Sean Payton era in New Orleans, the team has tried to address obvious needs in veteran free agency and that gives them some room to go after the top player on the board come draft days in April. ...

Full Story - The Daily Comet

Saints won't need a first round pick to get a great TE

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Saintswire Photo

By John Sigler | Saintswire

The New Orleans Saints traded their first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft to move up last season and bag pass rusher Marcus Davenport. Now there’s plenty of hand-wringing at the thought of New Orleans waiting until pick No. 62 to make their first selection. But here’s some good news: the team’s biggest position of need, bar none, is at tight end. And the Saints will not need a first round pick to pick up a great prospect.

In 2018, 16 different tight ends recorded 39 receptions — the Saints leader, Ben Watson, posted just 35 catches. When you look at how each of those 16 different tight ends was acquired by their team, you’ll see that few of them were highly-touted draft picks.

Only three players were selected in the first round of their respective draft classes: Eric Ebron (now with his second team), Evan Engram, and David Njoku. Just four more were picked up before the slot where New Orleans will make their first pick, and they include studs like Zach Ertz, Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Rudolph, and Vance Mcdonald (also with his second team). The best tight end in football, Travis Kelce, was picked at 63. ...

Full Story - Saintswire - USA Today

Shifting Saints focus to offseason: Here's 5 areas to look at, including more weapons

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(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By Nick Underhill | The Advocate

The Saints tried to add more weapons to the offense.

It was one of the biggest priorities last offseason, but Cameron Meredith battled a knee injury that eventually cut his season short, and Tre’Quan Smith flashed talent but was inconsistent. It is possible the Saints already have the players in the fold for a vastly improved group of wide receivers next season if everything goes right, but it should not be taken for granted, which is why adding more targets is the Saints' biggest responsibility this offseason.

Having Michael Thomas account for nearly 33 percent of the completed passes would be fine if the next wide receiver on the list caught more than seven percent of the completed passes. Thomas should continue to be targeted somewhere close to 150 times per season. The offense needs to find someone who is worth more than 45.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of the season was hiding this flaw for so long. Everyone knew the offense was devoid of weapons, and then the team added Dez Bryant and then Brandon Marshall. It made sense. The target distribution showed a huge flaw within the offense, but it was hard to get too worked up about anything when the team made scoring 40 points look easy...

Saints 2019: Offseason priorities, defensive interior, Sheldon Rankins

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By Roy Anderson | WhoDatDish

The interior of the Saints defensive line was a strength in 2018 until Sheldon Rankins was injured. Acquiring depth for the 2019 Season is an offseason priority.

One of the strengths of the resurgent New Orleans Saints defense in 2018 was in the interior of the defensive line. That was reflected in the Saints having the league’s number two run defense. Third-year man Sheldon Rankins was the heart of that unit until he went down with a torn Achilles in the NFC Playoffs Divisional Round. An offseason priority for the Saints in 2019 will be in handling some issues on the defensive interior regarding depth and a possible fill in for Rankins as he recovers.

Prior to Sheldon Rankins’ injury, he was having a career year at defensive tackle. With 40 tackles, eight sacks and a forced fumble, the former first round draft pick out of Louisville is finally starting to live up the pre-draft hype. Brought in to be a disruptive presence on the inside, Rankins took a huge leap from a slump-like 2017. That is until he was lost in the first quarter of that first playoff game against the Eagles.

A tear to the Achilles tendon is major. Especially when you’re talking about an athlete the size of Rankins. Full recovery following the surgery to repair the tendon will take at least six to eight months. That’s already getting into training camp and preseason...

How The New Orleans Saints Are Approaching Free Agency And The Rest Of The NFL Off-Season

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John Hendrix Contributor |Forbes

The New Orleans Saints were this close to making it to Super Bowl LIII, and the NFC Championship game will be both remembered and tainted for the foreseeable future. This season was a tremendous improvement over 2017, which is saying a lot based on how much Sean Payton's team overcame during three 7-9 seasons from 2014 to 2016. Now, they must pick up the pieces and keep moving forward.

The 2019 season has a lot of promise on the surface for the Saints, but at the same time, it looks to be the closing act of an era. For two years in a row, this is a team that has rapidly improved. Make no mistake about it, the window for getting another Lombardi Trophy in the hands of sure first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees is in the end game stage now. In turn, the Saints face their most important offseason yet.

Expiring Contracts

Running back Mark Ingram headlines the list of impending unrestricted free agents for the Saints. These are players free to negotiate with any team during the NFL's "legal" tampering period prior to free agency opening. Ingram, who turned 29 at the end of December, has expressed a desire to return to New Orleans, but understands that the NFL is a business. Ingram faces some hefty competition in the free agent running back market, and may not immediately see a starting role offered...

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