The Saints roster features a lot of offensive talent heading into the 2019 season, but Sean Payton knows he needs to find an upgrade at slot receiver.
No one playing the Saints next season is going to feel sorry for Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense. Guys like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas make head coach Sean Payton’s offense look really good. That doesn’t mean the roster is where Payton wants it to be.
Instead, Payton is still looking for one of his team’s young receivers to make a “jump.” Specifically, the Saints have to find a guy who’s capable of producing quality yards from the slot receiver position. Signing tight end Jared Cook in free agency will help give Brees more options in the middle of the field, but the New Orleans offense still needs one more guy to make plays down the seam.
In an ideal world for the Saints, that player would be Cameron Meredith. Payton still has faith in the 26-year-old receiver but injuries limited him to just nine catches in six games last season. He’ll need to show the coaching staff that he’s fully healthy and ready to contribute during the preseason if he wants to nail down the starting slot position for his own.
If Meredith can’t hold the position down, the Saints are going to need to be creative to obtain a player outside the organization who can. The organization still has some hope that Keith Kirkwood or Austin Carr can break out in 2019 but that seems unlikely. If Payton really wants to find a weapon in the slot, he’s going to need to gamble in free agency or the draft.
The team did make a play for Adam Humphries early in the free agency process, but they quickly realized he was going to end up out of their price range. Interestingly, Payton still isn’t ruling out the possibility of bringing in Dez Bryant. The former Cowboys receiver is currently rehabbing from injury but expects to be ready for the regular season.
Making a move for a talented wideout in the draft is going to be very difficult given the lack of picks available to Payton and company this season. The Saints don’t have a selection in the first, third or fourth round of this year’s draft. Spending a second round choice on a slot receiver might prevent the team from filling one of their defensive needs with a talented young player.
In the end, expect the Saints to figure this out. Payton is too innovative of an offensive coach to let all the talent he has go to waste. Even if they can’t coax quality production out of a slot receiver this year, they’re still going to score a ton of points.