The New Orleans Saints have championship aspirations in 2020.
Even though Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings ended their season in the Superdome as a massive underdog, Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints have as good a chance as any other team at taking home the NFC crown in 2020. Drew Brees remains one of the league’s best quarterbacks in his age-41 season, Michael Thomas was near unstoppable last year, and Dennis Allen’s defense started to turn it on near the end of the season.
The Saints might have some stiffer competition within their division now that Tom Brady, among others, joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but that doesn’t change the fact that New Orleans should still be considered the favorites to come out of that division.
Despite the high expectations, Saints fans shouldn’t expect another decade of success just yet, as this looks like a great team gearing up for one last charge for a title before they tear parts of the roster down.
The Saints have all the pieces needed to compete.
Brees is fresh off coming one-tenth of a percent short of tying his own record for completion percentage, and Kamara will look to make his fourth Pro Bowl in four seasons. Some might mock Thomas’ volume by claiming he’s a product of the system, but there’s a reason he set the record for catches in a single season.
The offense will click as long as most of their offensive heavy-hitters are healthy, but Allen’s defense has all the hallmarks of a unit that could lead the Saints to a title. Cameron Jordan should be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, while Malcolm Jenkins arriving via free agency after Vonn Bell’s departure for Cincinnati should help New Orleans’ secondary remain in the top ten in net yards per attempt.
New Orleans has a recipe for success all set up, but that formula might need to be tweaked after this season. If the Saints fail to win the Super Bowl, several looming personnel decisions might make it hard for them to contend in the near future.
The Saints have no succession plan at quarterback, and they might end up in salary cap hell soon.
For Brees’ innumerable positives, the future Hall of Famer is starting to run out of gas just a tad. While he is setting records for completion percentage, his 8.2 percent rate of passes thrown beyond 20 yards in the air was the lowest percentage in the league. With declining arm strength, nothing beyond this season is guaranteed for Brees. Coming off a season in which he injured his thumb and having already signed a deal with NBC, Brees might decide that he only has enough left for one more season.
Jameis Winston is an excellent backup and a serviceable spot starter/bridge quarterback, but he’s not someone New Orleans can hand the QB1 reins over to. No matter what they say bout Taysom Hill, there is no data point they can bring up that proves he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
No matter what happens under center, retooling around that new quarterback could be a bit of a challenge. While Thomas and Andrus Peat already are signed long-term, GM Mickey Loomis needs to find out how to somehow get Kamara, stud cornerback Marshon Lattimore and elite right tackle Ryan Ramczyk all locked up with new contracts. Loomis is a wizard when it comes to navigating the cap, but keeping all of these stars is
While the Saints aren’t sputtering off course in Brees’ final seasons, Loomis and Payton are smart enough to understand that 2020 might be the last crack they get a Super Bowl for a while, barring some incredibly lucky twists of fate.