The past few off-seasons, the Saints have been very active in free agency, and in the process have retained or brought in veteran players. The past couple of years though, the team has gotten a little ahead of themselves and thus are in a very tight cap situation. I understand the reasoning for splurging though. Drew Brees's window is closing and instead of rebuilding entirely, the Saints chose to reload. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you reload, you can't afford to fire any blanks. This off-season should be pretty different. I don't envision the team going for multiple high-end free agents this year. They may aim for Anthony Spencer, but I don't think they'll be in the Paul Kruger, Danell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, etc. Sweepstakes. I would love to see a strong draft and just open up competition at almost all positions, something I fully expect Payton to do based off of what he saw this past season. I'll touch on a few of the potential battles. Left Tackle-
Bushrod, if he returns, is the favorite to win, but his performance the past two seasons has been very average. Charles Brown and even second year player Marcel Jones could at the very least spark a fire under Bushrod, and if one of them should supplant him, then it means the team got some return on a former draft pick. Right Tackle-
Zach Strief was pretty rough, especially when he returned from injury. He's a mauler, but he just does not have the footspeed to combat even a mediocre speed rush. Charles Brown was doing a very good job filling in until he (inevitably) went down for the season. Bryce Harris looked like an undrafted rookie for the handful of plays he was in for. Will Robinson, the bouncer, actually looked pretty good though. He needed help at times, but he did not embarrass himself at all. All of these guys should be on a level playing field, and may the best man win. Free Safety-
Jenkins was truly awful in almost every facet of the game: missing tackles, blowing coverages, and just not really knowing what to do. The defense actually got better when he was shut down for the year and Isa Abdul-Quddus had his chance to step in. Surprisingly Quddus played very well, and if it were up to me, I would move with him as the starter, but there's little chance Payton does that. Jenkins is a locker room leader and has a lot of respect in the locker room. The only problem is that he's just not a great football player. If his football IQ ever caught up with his athletic ability, we wouldn't be having this discussion, but now he's going in his fourth season and he actually took a step back. The least the staff can do is open his job up to competition. Cornerback-
the Saints have a problem at this position. Jabari Greer is in decline, Patrick Robinson is still lost, and then there's not much else behind them. Corey White started out poorly, but really came on as the season progressed. I think he has the size and tenacity to start in the NFL, and especially on our team. Elbert Mack needs to be back as the nickel corner. This position needs to be addressed without a doubt.
So with that I leave it to you guys. What position battles do you most look forward to? Feel free to assume a certain player will join the mix via draft or free agency. It's a slow news time, so let's have some fun! Cheers!
P.S. I'm a longtime lurker and this is my first topic, glad to finally join the gang.