Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the New Orleans Saints [full archive here].
Season Recap – The defending Super Bowl champions failed to accomplish their goals as repeating champions, but still managed to finish with a solid 11-5 record. There were struggles early on in the season- the division-rival Atlanta Falcons overtook the division. It took until week 16 for the Saints to clinch a playoff berth after rallying from behind to beat the Falcons, but lost to the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round. In 2011, New Orleans hopes to retake the lead in the division and make another run at the Lombardi Trophy.
1. Outside Linebacker - With Danny Clark, Kawika Mitchell, Scott Shanle, and Jo-Lonn Dunbar scheduled to become free agents the Saints desperately need to upgrade. Greg Williams has brought this defense to the top of league and undoubtedly would love a few more pieces to work with. The Saints can find an upgrade in the first two rounds. Martez Wilson, out of Illinois, would be a great addition.
2. Defensive End – Will Smith’s play dropped in 2010 and only managed 5.5 sacks. The Saints tried to fill one of the end spots by bringing in veterans like Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, but both failed to impress. New Orleans needs a legit pass rusher and could find one in the draft.
3. Defensive Tackle – With Sedrick Ellis as the only capable starter, the Saints began their offseason by signing free agent Shaun Rogers. Rogers has been a force in the past, but in recent years his play has declined. If Rogers can resurrect his play under Greg Williams, then it would fill a major need for the Saints. New Orleans will want to bring in some young players to develop for the future. Marvin Austin would be a great selection in round two.
4. Right Tackle – John Stinchcomb will be 32 by next season, but due to his recent ineffectiveness the Saints may want to upgrade over him. Protecting Drew Brees is the number one concern for New Orleans, so look for this position to be settled by the start of next season.
5. Safety - Malcolm Jenkins is the only remaining safety on the roster, while the rest are free agents. The Saints will look to resign as many as possible, but some are sure to get away. New Orleans will look to add depth to the free safety position, and will possibly look for a new strong safety if Roman Harper is not resigned.