2023 NFL Offseason report: New Orleans Saints

2R1EP6E New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (90) runs a drill during the NFL football team's rookie minicamp in Metairie, La., Saturday, May 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

Free agency recap: This free-agent season meant turnover for the defensive front seven, with edge defender Marcus Davenport, linebacker Kaden Elliss and interior defenders David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle all signing elsewhere, and Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd joining the team as new faces for the defensive interior.

• Best move of the offseason: A.T. Perry entered the draft with a third-round grade, so New Orleans did well to select him in the middle of Day 3.

• Outlook for 2023: New Orleans has big-name players on both sides of the ball, but several have started to show the wear and tear of the years. In the last two seasons, the team on paper heading into August simply hasn’t looked anything like the team that makes it to January.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes


As the dust settles on the 2023 NFL offseason, it's time to assess how each team fared in their quest to improve their roster.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OFFSEASON GRADE: B-

2023 NFL Free Agency
FA signings FA losses
QB Derek Carr ED Marcus Davenport (MIN)
WR Michael Thomas DI David Onyemata (ATL)
TE Foster Moreau LB Kaden Elliss (ATL)
RB Jamaal Williams QB Andy Dalton (CAR)
WR Jarvis Landry DI Shy Tuttle (CAR)
DI Khalen Saunders
DI Nathan Shepherd
Free agency recap

The Saints always seem to be up against the salary cap in March, and this year was no different. This free-agent season meant turnover for the defensive front seven, with edge defender Marcus Davenport, linebacker Kaden Elliss and interior defenders David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle all signing elsewhere, and Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd joining the team as new faces for the defensive interior.

Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton is also gone, but the Saints were able to replace him with Derek Carr. The Saints will hope Carr can elevate his play from 2022, as he had his lowest-graded season in the past five years. He recorded just 21 big-time throws and 19 turnover-worthy plays.

2023 Draft class

R1 (29): DI Bryan Bresee, Clemson
R2 (40): EDGE Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame
R3 (71): RB Kendre Miller, TCU
R4 (103): T Nick Saldiveri, Old Dominion
R4 (127): QB Jake Haener, Fresno State
R5 (146): S Jordan Howden, Minnesota
R6 (195): WR A.T. Perry, Wake Forest

2023 NFL Draft recap

Considering the significant turnover up front in free agency, it didn't come as a surprise to see the Saints spend two top-40 picks on defensive linemen. Interior defender Bryan Bresee splashed on film, showing the athletic traits needed to be an effective interior pass-rusher at the NFL level. However, consistency was always an issue for him at Clemson, and he failed to record a pass-rush win rate over 12.0% over a season.

Edge defender Isaiah Foskey had comparable win rates to Bresee while at Notre Dame — his 11.6% in 2022 was a career-best mark — but he showed the ability to finish big plays with 23 sacks over the last two college seasons.

Best move of the offseason: Drafting WR A.T. Perry

Perry entered the draft with a third-round grade, so New Orleans did well to select him in the middle of Day 3. He has a huge frame with a 6-foot-10 wingspan and earned grades over 82.0 in each of his last two seasons at Wake Forest. While he's not a polished route-runner at this stage, his added presence as a big deep threat could add an extra level of dynamism to an already young and loaded receiving corps.

Remaining team needs: Linebacker Depth

As it stands right now, Demario Davis is the only true reliable starter at off-ball linebacker for the Saints. And given that Davis will be entering the season at 34 years of age, New Orleans needs to start considering the future.

Pete Werner got off to a promising start as a rookie, earning a 91.0 run-defense grade in limited action, but he failed to duplicate his success in 2022 in a larger role. Last year, his play against the run regressed, with his 59.8 grade due largely to his 12 missed tackles.

Aside from Werner, Zack Baun is likely next up on the depth chart, but he has played fewer than 450 snaps in three seasons with the Saints.

Early position battle to watch: CB Paulson Adebo vs. CB Alontae Taylor

The Saints look very thin at cornerback outside of Marshon Lattimore and will be looking for Paulson Adebo or Alontae Taylor to break out during camp and earn the No. 2 spot. Across 496 coverage snaps last season, Adebo allowed a 69.6% completion percentage on throws into his coverage, with eight forced incompletions and no interceptions.

Taylor showed a bit more playmaking ability as a rookie, as he racked up 12 forced incompletions and allowed only 45.3% of passes into his coverage to be completed. If the Saints are to make a run at the South this year, one of these two will need to play a big part in their efforts.

2023 Outlook

Despite playing in possibly the weakest division in football, the Saints do not look like a team that has improved enough in the offseason to compete for the NFC South crown.

While Carr should be an upgrade over Andy Dalton, his play regressed in 2022, and it’s hard to expect him to revert to his prior form with a new club in a new system.

New Orleans has big-name players on both sides of the ball, but several have started to show the wear and tear of the years. In the last two seasons, the team on paper heading into August simply hasn’t looked anything like the team that makes it to January.

If Carr cannot take advantage of his playmakers and consistently make explosive plays, this could be a long season for the Saints.

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