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Latest 2023 New Orleans Saints 53-Man Roster Prediction

The New Orleans Saints have $14,263,421 in current available Top 51 cap space, ranking 14th in the NFL for the 2023 season. A 7-10 2022 record steers the Saints sail into 2023 expecting Derek Carr to headline the offseason that will put them over the playoff missing hump and compete in the NFC South.


Training camp, joint practices, preseason, and roster cuts remain to dictate the final opening-day roster for the Saints, but we can see past that for now and project this 2023 New Orleans Saints roster.




Quarterback: 3

Derek Carr

Jameis Winston

Jake Haener


Since New Orleans Saints legend Drew Brees retired following the 2020 NFL season, here is a comparison of quarterback production in New Orleans versus the production Derek Carr saw in Vegas in that time period:


Carr averaged 4,163 yards in those two years, a 65% completion percentage, 24 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.

The Saints averaged 3,703 yards, 62.2% completion percentage, 27 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions.


I justly mention Carr had an additional 55 pass attempts. The Saints quarterbacks featured those two years primarily consisted of Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Trevor Siemian, and Taysom Hill. At a rate of 4 years, $150 Million, New Orleans is all in on Derek Carr for the next window of the foreseeable future. How much of an upgrade is Carr for that much more money?

The Saints ranked 23rd in the NFL last year in quarterback room spending and currently rank 20th for 2023. That 2023 cap # only features a $7,200,000 hit for Derek Carr, but a $35,700,000 hit comes in 2024 and even deeper in the pockets for $45,700,000 in 2025. Other than trading Winston potentially before his one-year deal completes. this room seems set for a while. 2023 NFL Draft fourth-round pick, Jake “Blue SteelHaener, is primed to be developed to take over the QB2 role in time.


Running Back: 4

Alvin Kamara

Jamaal Williams

Kendre Miller

Dwayne Washington


Consider this backfield with Alvin Kamara and without Alvin Kamara. Will the NFL suspend him for his felony battery charge from the 2022 Pro Bowl weekend? As explained by PFN, "The judge in the case set a July 31 trial date, which is typically when NFL training camps are up and running. The standard has been a six-game suspension, and the NFL can levy it whether Kamara is found guilty or avoids all legal consequences." Without Kamara, this room still features a starting caliber back in Williams and a developmental RB2 in Miller with great Draft capital, being the fourth running back taken this past year. Let’s not even undersell it, Williams was a monster last year. Breaking out with career highs in yards (1,066) and rushing touchdowns (17), he was 11th in the league in rushing yards and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns by four TDs. It was not even close.


Fullback: 1

Adam Prentice


Prentice as a traditional fullback still fits more of the Sean Payton brand, but snags a roster spot with heir Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael. Two running backs sets could eat up minutes of Prentice and offer the team some final roster spot versatility with the Kamara fiasco hanging overhead. With seven carries to his name over two years with the Saints, this could be one of those final spot decisions.


Wide Receiver: 6

Chris Olave

Michael Thomas

Rashid Shaheed

AT Perry

James Washington

Tre’quan Smith


“Here to stay!” - Drake London, Garrett Wilson, George Pickens, Jahan Dotson, and Christian Watson among other second-year wide receivers are passing the mic. Chris Olave is there at the front of that group after being the third receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. His 14.0-yard average depth of target headlines a top-10 finish across the NFL and pairs with his fourth-best 29 deep targets. New Orleans and its average QB play could depend on standout Olave for a 26.7% target share on his way to 1,000+ yards. Will Michael Thomas do anything? Thomas was an absolute freak from 2016-2019 for New Orleans. Leave the “slant boy” jokes at home, even an Atlanta Falcon can’t get an argument in court against an average of 118 receptions, 1,379 yards, and 8 TDs a year over a four-year span. Let's go ahead now and be Negative Nancy now that we have been Captain Positive: In the last three years, Thomas has played in 10 games total. Including 2021 where he didn’t appear, Thomas has averaged 19 receptions, 305 yards, and 1 TD a year in that span. Lingering ankle injury questions need to be answered this year in a defining year for the 30-year-old. I’ve mailed it in on Thomas, will I be wrong? Pound for pound, A.T. Perry might have been the best value pick of the 2023 NFL Draft for the Saints. Falling to the sixth round despite some projections having him as high as Day Two, the long 6’3 Perry averaged 76 catches, 1,195 yards, and 13 TDs a season the past two years at Wake Forest.




Tight End: 3

Juwan Johnson

Foster Moreau

Lucas Krull

Does Johnson build on his breakout Year Three massive career-highs - 42 catches, 508 yards, and 7 TDs? The fact we are discussing Foster Moreau being ready to hold a roster spot and contribute is incredible in itself. Moreau has been practicing despite a Hodgkin Lymphoma diagnosis. As recently as the last two weeks, Moreau shared "After a few tumultuous months, I’ve been blessed with the news that I am in full remission from Hodgkin Lymphoma!" Krull could again linger on the practice squad and final roster spot territory, particularly depending on Moreau’s health.

Offensive Guard: 5

Nick Saldiveri

Cesar Ruiz

Andrus Peat

Calvin Throckmorton

Mark Evans


Saldiveri started 35 games at Old Dominion, logging extensive tape at right tackle (primary), center, and right guard. Toting an offensive tackle's criteria 9.48 Relative Athletic Score (RAS) and a 9.84 RAS among guards, aside from being an obvious starting candidate, Saldiveri can be a legitimate backup at all five spots. Trading up on Day Three shows a particular interest by the team. He’s here to stay. Cesar Ruiz will be an obvious fifth-year option pickup, even post-Week 15 Lisfranc injury. Ruiz didn’t just break a foot, but also his 46 consecutive games started streak at right guard. Mark Evans received the most money of all the undrafted free agents signed by the team. That points toward a potential final roster spot for the Arkansas Pine-Bluff Golden Lion. Heading into Year Nine with New Orleans, this could be it for Andrus Peat. Or do the Saints and Peat do similar to this year and work a team-friendly deal? We’ll see for the former first-round vet after logging 79 Saints starts. Throckmorton has been a UDFA gem after logging six starts in 2022 at both guard spots.


Offensive Tackle: 4

Ryan Ramczyk

Trevor Penning

James Hurst

Landon Young


$96 Million man Ryan Ramczyk headlines this group with an All-Pro designation and 89 career starts for the Saints. James Hurst going undrafted nearly ten years ago didn’t make sense then and damn sure does not make sense after he has started 80+ games in the NFL at multiple positions (41 at left tackle, 23 at left guard, seven at right guard, etc.). Former 19th overall pick Trevor Penning gets a fresh start in year two after a banged-up year one that only featured him in six contests. Add backup Landon Young and his 26 appearances the last two years to this group and the two-deep offers breathing room for Penning to continue rehabbing and developing.


Center: 1

Erik McCoy


Signing a five-year extension in 2022 shows the belief in the veteran Saint entering his fifth year starting for the team after an All-Rookie year in 2019.


FLEX: 1

Taysom Hill


I’m not calling Hill a quarterback, a tight end, an H-back, or any of that. Maybe "offensive weapon?" As former college teammate and current Saints teammate Jamaal Williams said, “You give him that little open lane, he starts moving like a big, buff gazelle.” “(Hill) had a career-high 96 carries for 575 yards and seven touchdowns last season. But, despite Allen determining that Hill would move to tight end last offseason, he had more completed passes (13) than receptions (9).” Hill is identified with this team as much as anyone at this point.


Defensive End: 5

Cam Jordan

Tanoh Kpassagnon

Carl Granderson

Isaiah Foskey

Payton Turner


A 13th season for Saints legend Cam Jordan has to be admired. 8.5 sacks in 2022 and a 12th consecutive season of 16 games played prove he’s still here to stay. Kpassagnon is comfortably set in his rotational role heading into year seven with 34 starts and 84 games under his belt. Granderson was arguably the breakout player/most improved player of 2022, with career highs in sacks and tackles. More specifically, he doubled his career-high in tackles in year four. The real questions in this group versus “we know what we have” are Turner and Foskey. It is simple, for a 28th overall pick heading into year three, Peyton Turner has done diddly squat. With no improvement this year, it is going to be hard to hush “bust” chants. 13 games played, zero starts, 28 tackles, and 3 sacks in 2 years leaves a lot of room for improvement. The 40th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Foskey brings in a Notre Dame all-time record of 26.5 collegiate sacks to get fans excited about the potential.


Defensive Interior: 4

Bryan Bresee

Khalen Saunders

Nathan Shepherd

Malcolm Roach


This sounds so simple, but Bryan Bresee was such a New Orleans Saints pick, in a good way. The former #1 overall recruit brings three All-ACC selections to New Orleans. Saunders broke out from 22 games played through his first 3 years in the league to play 16 games last year for Kansas City. It is critical to this Saints room for him to stay healthy and available. With 73 career games and 12 career starts, Shepherd is comfortably ready to arrive in town and hold down a rotational role where he can be depended on. The fourth and final spot is where it gets interesting in this room. Roach will most likely get it, but honestly, the dream scenario would be to use some of the remaining cap to get a reliable veteran in here to aid Bresee and provide insurance for Saunders, while bumping Roach down to the practice squad.


Linebacker: 5

Pete Werner

Demario Davis

Zack Baun

D’Marco Jackson

Anfernee Orji


Two years in and 19 starts deep on a fifth-ranked NFL defense, Werner seems a future mainstay plan. An additional step this year will only solidify that. Demario Davis may be getting long in the tooth at 34 years old, but the man has played in no less than 16 regular season games every single year for 11 straight years. Until he slows down, he hasn’t slowed down. Davis even had a vastly career high in sacks last year with 6.5 and games played with a full 17.


Cornerback: 4

Marshon Lattimore

Alontae Taylor

Paulson Adebo

Bradley Roby

Lonnie Johnson Jr.


Making nearly $20M AAV tells you what the Saints think of Marshon Lattimore. Lattimore is the only Saints defensive back ever to be selected to the Pro Bowl four times, he's a team legend at this point. His 78 passes defended is tied for third-most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2017. Does Alontae Taylor and his new #1 uni take the second starting corner role from Paulson Adebo? Taylor and his nickel versatility in three-personnel packages offer an interesting niche in this battle for the outside spot, even just being in rotation with proposed starting nickel Bradley Roby. This could be the most interesting depth chart battle in New Orleans. Lonnie Johnson Jr. offers enough versatility as a final DB to get a final roster spot.


Safety: 4

Tyrann Mathieu

Marcus Maye

Jordan Howden

J.T. Gray


Yes, Tyrann Mathieu is no young man at 31 years old and 10 years into his NFL career, but his play down the second half stretch of Year One in New Orleans opens an opportunity for immediate defensive improvement. The Honey Badger led the team in solo tackles and interceptions with personal career highs. New Orleans must create more turnovers this year, finishing 31st in the NFL last year in interceptions and total turnovers. Mathieu gave the required production, someone else has to step up to fill the gaps. Maye continues his trend of starting all 70 NFL games he has been featured. Howden, a 5th rounder in the 2023 NFL Draft with 49 collegiate starts under his belt, looks to jump in the nickel rotation behind Bradley Roby and develop into the eventual starter in time. Gray is the special teams' demon: As reported by the Saints, “Since his first full season in 2019, Gray's 54 special teams stops rank first in the NFC and second in the NFL and his 54 solo stops lead the conference and is tied for the NFL lead.”


Long Snapper:

Zach Wood


Wood is as athletic of a long snapper as you will find in the NFL. A 33-game starter at defensive end for Southern Methodist University, Wood is trusted enough by New Orleans to be given a four-year contract in 2020. Since 2017, Wood has handled every special team snap for New Orleans.


Kicker:

Wil Lutz


Lutz’s 74.2% FG percentage (23/31) put him right at the bottom of the NFL last year (31st out of 32 starting kickers). Only Chris Boswell of the Steelers with 71.4% was worse.

In terms of the 2023 cap hit, Lutz will be the 9th highest-paid kicker in the NFL @ $4.12M.

Unless Lutz majorly steps it up this year and reverses his descending production trend (93% in 2018, 89% in 2019, 82% in 2020, injured in 2021) the Saints are getting robbed, even with Lutz showing loyalty and patience with the team, having already accepted a $1.5 million pay cut in this final contract year of his five-year, $20.25 million deal. This upcoming season he will earn $1.25 million in base salary, $500 thousand in signing bonus, and $450,000 in roster bonuses.


Punter:

Blake Gillikin


Gillikin’s 46.4 yards per punt average in 2022 ranked 21st in the NFL. He averaged 47.7 yards per punt in 2021 with the Saints for even further perspective. Although he punted six fewer times in 2022 than in 2021 , Gillikin saw nearly double the number of touchbacks last year than his first year with the team. Does Gillikin continue to regress or does he “flip the field” this year for New Orleans?

 

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