The Saints season ended watching Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs beat corner back Marcus Williams to the point of the catch and stay in bounds en route to a 61-yard touchdown reception on the final play of regulation in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
What happens next for the Saints? The decisions made in NFL free agency could have a positive or negative impact on the fantasy outlook and values of players involved.
Free Agents information and cap numbers are courtesy of OverTheCap.
The Saints currently have $31,997,651 in projected cap space heading into free agency based on a team salary cap projection of $178 million.
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The Saints’ top three TEs (Coby Fleener, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Josh Hill) remain under contract heading into the 2018 season, but all three are unlikely to remain on the roster at the beginning the 2018 season. Many would agree that Fleener’s tenure in New Orleans after signing a monster contract has been a disappointment.
The probability is high that the Saints will offer him an ultimatum. Fleener will be asked to take a pay cut or be released.
TE, QB, OL, WR
The Saints TEs accounted for very little statistical production this season.
Hoomanawanui is an exceptional run blocker and was a key contributor to the Saints averaging 121.7 rushing yards per game and is likely to return.1 Hoomanawanui enters the last year of his deal at a reasonable cap cost.
Hill was very productive against in the postseason, accumulating six receptions, 103 receiving yards, and a touchdown on 10 targets. Hill played 80 percent of the Saints offensive snaps in two postseason games.
The Saints will address the position in free agency or the 2018 NFL Draft. Hill and another TE could form a committee with Hoomanawanui handling the blocking duties. Imagine the statistical possibilities if the Saints did reunite with Jimmy Graham or sign restricted free agent Cameron Brate?
ESPN reported that quarterback Drew Brees does not plan to test the market and sees himself with the Saints this upcoming season. The front office would wise to prioritize signing him sooner rather than later. Brees threw for 4,334 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions, becoming just the third QB to throw for 70,000 or more career yards. Peyton Manning and Brett Favre are the only other players to accomplish this feat.
Who will become the QB of the future for this team? Although we’ve seen the value of an experienced backup with the playoff exploits of Nick Foles, the Saints are likely to address the QB position in the 2018 NFL Draft and not re-sign Chase Daniels.
The offensive line played very well last year, but the Saints could benefit from additional depth. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram became the first running back tandem in NFL history to generate 1,500 or more total scrimmage yards in a season, and New Orleans ranked near the top of the NFL in both adjusted line yards and open field yards. Those rankings suggest the Saints capitalized on both elite line play and electric RB performance and that they’ll need to keep both in place to maintain the such an impressive level of rushing success.
The Saints will try to retain as much of the offensive line as possible, especially Senio Kelemete. He has been with the Saints since 2014 and is one of their key reserves, displaying the ability to play guard, center, and tackle. The OL accounts for 26.6 percent of the Saints salary cap, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn are the most valuable components of the Saints passing attack heading into the 2018 season.
Will the team find a reliable third WR? Given the off-field incident with Willie Snead2 and lack of production from Brandon Coleman, the Saints may choose not to tender either player. Snead was expected to be a bigger part of the offense this season but only played 25 percent of the offensive snaps during the regular season. One bold prediction is that they sign Jarvis Landry to replace Snead as their primary slot receiver.
Landry has been a big producer, but the perception among NFL front offices is that he is an excellent slot receiver. I do not see a scenario where he is compensated like an outside receiver. This will put the Saints in a much better position to sign him given their cap situation.
I don’t see the Saints making many any major changes. If your dynasty team is built to win now and you need a QB, then you may be able to buy low on Brees. Ingram is a player I would be open to trading if you have him on your roster in dynasty formats given his monster statistical season. He turned 28 on December 21st.
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