Player health, depth keys to Saints’ success this upcoming season

Dennis Allen says Saints now focused on draft after a number of free agent signings
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 12:11 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Injuries plagued the Saints last season, resulting in a disappointing 7-10 outcome despite going through a highly anticipated offseason.

For as much as the Saints fell short, they were still one win difference from winning a weakened NFC South and showed a measure of improvement late in the season.

Speaking at the Annual NFL Owners’ Meeting on Tuesday (March 28) Saints head coach Dennis Allen said player health and roster depth will be key factors in getting the Saints over the hump.

“We made nice moves in free agency and I feel good about where we are,” Allen said.

The Saints kicked off their offseason by signing free-agent quarterback Derek Carr. and made another offensive splash when they signed running back Jamaal Williams, who could help the offense feature one of the league’s premiere one-two punches on the ground alongside Alvin Kamara. Allen described Williams as a physical runner that excels in goalline packages. While the Saints are also aware that Kamara could miss some time due to a pending legal situation, Allen said the team is prepared to retool the offense if necessary.

“We like what we’ve been able to do in free agency and we still have the draft coming up, which is exciting,” Allen said. “The draft is where our focus is now.”

In free agency, the Saints lost David Onyemata, Shy Tuttle, Kaden Ellis, and Marcus Davenport. While Allen credited them all as anchors of one of the league’s best defenses in the last couple of seasons, the group dropped in output last season and dealt with injuries.

“It’s a tough price to replace those them,” Allen said. “But it’s the nature of the business.”

The “nature of the business” has led to the Saints signing defensive tackles Khalen Saunders (Kansas City) and Nathan Shepherd (New York Jets). Allen said that the organization is excited about what they feel is an athletic upgrade in Saunders, a player that reminds him of Hollis Thomas. He also compared Shepherd to Onyemata.

To sure up defensive tackle depth, the Saints are bringing back Malcolm Roach on a one-year deal. Allen also said that the Saints are not done adding defensive line depth.


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Allen said that the organization is conscious of player health and implied that injuries played into bad luck last season. Noting that both starting quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton played through injuries in 2022, the organization felt that it was essential to keep a high-profile player for depth under center, resulting in re-signing Winston for another season.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas is not 100 percent, Allen said, but the acquisition of Carr has motivated him to do everything in his power to return to the field.

Caesar Ruiz and Trevor Penning are also still working towards a return to the offensive line through this offseason.

Allen was also asked about Sean Payton taking the job in Denver and what he thinks of familiar former Saints personnel joining the Broncos.

“It’s part of the business and we knew that some of our guys were leaving so we were prepared,” Allen said. “But he (Payton) didn’t get all of the ones he wanted.”

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