3. New Orleans Saints
Let me preface this by saying Drew Brees is 36 years old and owed $30 million next season — the last year of his deal. I’m not saying Brees can’t still play or will regress. I’m not saying that Brees doesn’t deserve that kind of money. It’s simply a lot of coin to be paying a 36-year-old quarterback who should not want to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints after next season.
Also, the Saints kind of already started the process by trading away Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. Yeah, that might not have been a smart move. Max Unger is a phenomenal center and terrific presence in the locker room. And sure, maybe things soured after the whole “Is Graham a wide receiver or a tight end” debacle.
It just wan’t a smart move on the Saints’ part.
Sooner or later Russell Wilson and Graham are going to get on the same page, and the Seahawks will be even more dangerous than they have been the past two years.
But getting back to the Saints… yeah, it’s time to re-build. I’m sorry if that’s not what you want to hear, Saints fans, but I’m not really sorry. It’s true.
Marques Colston, the supposed No. 1 option, will be a free agent with Brees after next season. He also has not been utilized the way he should be. Unger and Kenny Vaccaro are also set to watch their contracts expire after 2016. So, it makes sense to start dealing guys now and collecting assets while their stocks are high.
The Atlanta Falcons finally have a head coach who doesn’t ignore the defensive side of the ball. In fact, that’s kind of Dan Quinn’s strength. Plus, Matt Ryan has arguably the best wide receiver in the game in Julio Jones and a developing running back in Devonta Freeman, who has six touchdowns in the last two weeks.
The Carolina Panthers seem to finally be putting it together now, too. Cam Newton has thrown for 809 yards and seven touchdowns with only two picks through four games — with “no wide receiving threats.”
Seriously, when the Panthers finally give Newton a big-time target other than tight end Greg Olsen, they’ll be deadly. Their defense is primed to thrive under Luke Kuechly’s leadership and the emerging Josh Norman.
There just isn’t any room for New Orleans at the top of the NFC South. So, toss out the blueprint. Start from scratch.
Next: Detroit Lions