Well, the season’s over. The Saints were intimidated and bounced from the playoffs by the Seattle Seahwaks this past Saturday in convincing fashion. The team was undoubtedly intimidated and lost focus and never regained it.
Now is not the time to look back at the flaws, yet a chance to look towards the future and what the team should do in the upcoming draft and free agency. The Saints need to make certain that their road woes are left in 2013 and that they don’t being them into the 2014-15 season. Maybe a change at who’s calling the offensive plays? I think Sean Payton has come to trust Offensive Coordinator Pete Carmichael a little bit more than in years past. Carmichael has grown into a terrific play caller and knows how to orchestrate situational football. Look for Carmichael to have more responsibilities come next training camp.
It’s also time to say goodbye to some of the old stalwarts from seasons past. I hate to say it, but it’s time to let go of guys like DE Will Smith and Safety Roman Harper. Their skills are waning and their bodies are breaking down. Releasing those two would certainly clear up some cap room to re-sign some of the younger talent on the squad such as All-Pro TE Jimmy Graham.
Graham’s contract expires this offseason and the Saints are looking to lock him up for good. Drew Brees has gone on record saying that he would consider reconstructing his deal to help with some cap relief to re-sign aforementioned key players. Honestly, that’s not the best idea. The team needs to think about the long term. How much will DE Cam Jordan and OLB Junior Galette cost in their contract years? Will Drew still be around when those contracts expire and if so who will be willing to take a pay cut or reconstruct their contract then?
Tough decisions are on the horizon for the Saints, but the team still has full confidence that the window of opportunity to win another Super Bowl is still in view and still wide open. With year under the team’s belt in the Rob Ryan defensive era and another great year offensively under Sean Payton and Pete Carmichael, the Saints has something that hasn’t been mentioned in a long time. Continuity. A consistent, solid coaching staff. A core group of young up and coming players on both sides of the ball, and veteran leaders.
Add another well orchestrated NFL Draft in April to the mix and some solid free agent moves, making the team younger this could just be another building block to a special year next year. We’ll just have to stay tuned.
The season may be over, but the quest for a Super Bowl next year begins now.