The New Orleans Saints offense this season ranked in the top five, which is not a new place for this team since Drew Brees and Sean Payton took over. Brees threw for over 5,000 yard yet again as the team average over points a game. Continuing our look at each position going into the offseason, we take a look at the wide receiver position.
In years past, this unit was one of the most talented and deepest unit in the league. However, this year the same can’t really be said. The production that we are used to seeing wasn’t there as close to 70% of Brees’ production went to tight ends and running backs. I understand that there is Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, and the other running backs, but only 30% distributed between 5 or so guys? That’s not very good.
Marques Colston was unable to get over the 1000 yard mark for only the second time in his career. He was grossly inconsistent posting multiple game of less than 20 receiving yards, which is unacceptable for a team’s number 1 receiver. After him, the next highest guy was Kenny Stills posting 641 yards. Stills has been a nice addition to a receiving core that needed a little bit of speed. Other than Stills, however, there wasn’t too much to be excited about.
The Saints receiver position more than any other position needs an upgrade in talent. Colston is good receiver, but his age and diminishing speed are becoming more apparent as he isn’t able to separate from the other team’s number one corner. The lack of talent at receiver became obvious late in the season when teams like New England and Seattle (twice) were able to concentrate on the middle of the field to take Graham and Sproles away.
With all the attention to the middle of the field, no Saints’ receiver was able to create separation, which is part of the reason that Brees was getting sacked a lot this year. The Saints don’t need a Megatron or a Dez Bryant. They need a guy who can handle physical play that defenses try to employ and who can beat one on one coverage and take some attention away from Graham and the running backs. In addition, this would benefit Colston and Stills who are good enough to work on the oppoenent’s number 2 and 3 cornerbacks.
What are the options? As far as free agency goes, there are some players who can serve that number 2 receiver role (with Graham being the number one). Eric Decker would be the most ideal fit, but he is going to out of the Saints’ price range. Other than that, three names stick out.
Hakeem Nicks and Jeremy Maclin are both talented veterans with injury histories. With a little finagling of the cap that is a possibility. In addition, Emmanuel Sanders is intriguing. Talented receiver, but not very productive in Pittsburgh, but his speed may be good complements to Graham and Colston.
If the Saints decide to address the option in the draft, they will have plenty of options as receiver is one of the deepest positions. Chances are, true number one receivers like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans won’t be available, but a talented prospect like Kelvin Benjamin may be perfect for what the Saints are trying to do. Though a long shot, there is a chance that Marquise Lee falls if his injury history becomes an overwhelming concern.
As one can see, there are a good amount of options if the Saints feel like addressing the lack of talent as receiver. If they don’t go either route, I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to fix the problem in house with the likes of Nick Toon and Joe Morgan, who was out with a torn ACL this year. Whatever the case, after this season, there is a huge need to get better at receiver for the upcoming season.