#32for32 New Orleans Saints
2011 Record: 13-3, 1st NFC South (L Divisional Round @ SF)
Projected 2012 Record: 10-6, 2nd NFC South
Key Arrivals: QB Luke McCown, ILB David Hawthorne, MLB Curtis Lofton, OLB Chris Chamberlain, DT Broderick Bunkley, OG Ben Grubbs
Key Departures: DT Shaun Rogers, LB Jeremiah Hunter, CB Leigh Torrence, OLB Jo-Lunn Dunbar, CB Tracy Porter, OG Carl Nicks, WR Robert Meachem, MLB Johnathan Vilma (Suspended for season), DE Will Smith (Suspended four games)
Drew Brees still isn’t signed, and that could be a problem. I’m confident they’ll get a deal done in time, but he’s missing time that could prove valuable down the road. The bounty-gate scandal really hurt this team, veteran leader Johnathan Vilma is gone for the year, so is coach Sean Peyton, and Interim Head Coach Joe Vitt is suspended the first for games. This is why it is huge for Drew to get into camp as soon as possible, if they don’t reach a deal by July 16th, Brees must either enter training camp under the Franchise Tender, or hold out until a deal is done.
The Saints have only lost Robert Meachem out wide and have drafted Nick Toon from Wisconsin. As long as they still have the same core of receivers, Brees can still make things work….again, that’s why they need him. Without him, this is an average WR core, and an average offense. Try as Chase Daniel might, he can’t get it done.
But again, I’m 90% sure Brees makes it back, if they don’t reach a deal I don’t believe that his hangups about the franchise tender are big enough for him to miss an entire season. The loss of Sean Peyton is still large and will loom over their heads all season long, Joe Vitt is still well respected enough for this team to hold it together.
On defense, they lose Tracy Porter and Leigh Torrence, and have not strengthened the core in their absence. They already ranked 30th against the pass in 2011, so they can’t get much worse in that department, and they have added plenty of veterans to the linebacking core, one that was already ranked 12th last season.
In short, the Saints will be just fine, and will be the same Saints we’ve seen for the last few years, just take a little off the trim because the Sean Peyton and Drew Brees connection won’t be available this time around.