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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
John Sigler

Saints receive a favorable offseason grade ahead of 2023 NFL draft

The 2023 NFL draft is just around the corner, so it’s a good time to pause and take stock of the various teams around the NFC South. And one useful tool in gauging the New Orleans Saints’ progress and that of their rivals is offseason grades.

While these are often subjective, they are a good reference point in catching up on all of the departures and new arrivals for various teams around the league. A strong rookie draft class can put a pin in what’s been a successful Saints offseason. The latest take on their performance in the spring comes from Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, who graded New Orleans with a B-plus:

If the signing of quarterback Derek Carr helps put the New Orleans Saints back in the playoff mix this season, fans will marvel at the financial wizardry general manager Micky Loomis pulled off this offseason.

The Saints entered the offseason facing a $52.9 million cap deficit. Somehow, they found a way to sign Carr to a four-year, $150 million deal, which isn’t proverbial pennies but is a fair price for a four-time Pro Bowler.

While New Orleans did have to part with standout players like Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, Justin Evans and Kaden Elliss, they managed to keep guys like tight end Juwan Johnson, defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon, backup quarterback Jameis Winston and work out a contract restructure with wideout Michael Thomas.

The Saints also brought in some solid reinforcements in Khalen Saunders, Nathan Shepherd and Jamaal Williams.

In New Orleans, Carr will reunite with head coach Dennis Allen, who was the Raiders’ head coach when Carr was drafted back in 2014. If Carr can boost the offense and New Orleans’ defense can replicate its 2022 success (ranked fifth overall), the Saints can improve significantly on their 7-10 record from last season.

But how does that stack up against the other NFC South teams? The Saints are facing some competition from their rivals on the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, and the neighboring Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the mix, too. Here’s how the offseason grades (so far) shook out at Bleacher Report:

  1. Atlanta Falcons: A
  2. Carolina Panthers: A-
  3. New Orleans Saints: B+
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C

We’ll circle back and see what the experts, analysts, and prognosticators think about each NFC South team after the 2023 draft is in the books. With the Panthers picking first overall and the Falcons joining them inside the top 10, and the Buccaneers also in good position, odds are each team will make more inroads than New Orleans in the first round. But the Saints have a strong scouting department, and it’s anyone’s guess as to how they all stack up this time next month.

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