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State of the New Orleans Saints: Playoffs or bust in 2024? Derek Carr, Dennis Allen must end dry spell

Where does your squad stand ahead of the 2024 NFL season? Adam Rank sets the table by providing a State of the Franchise look at all 32 teams, zeroing in on the new faces to know, one significant fantasy spin and the stakes at play in the campaign to come.

Members of the Saints organization, Saints fans around the world and those who still get a kick out of watching Seinfeld reruns and seeing George Costanza mention the legendary Bobby Hebert ...

Kind of hard to describe what happened in New Orleans last year. I mean, it's not so troubling when you're talking about a vacation in the Big Easy. Less pleasant when discussing your favorite football team. The Saints started off at 2-0, and you thought it was going to be a playoff season. Things never completely took hold, though, and despite a hot finish that saw New Orleans win four of its last five to get to 9-8, the Saints fell short of the postseason for the third straight year. Will the dry spell end in 2024? Let's take a look.

2024 brain trust

Table inside Article
Head coach Dennis Allen
General manager Mickey Loomis
Offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak
Defensive coordinator Joe Woods
Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi

Roster reshuffling

Below is a rundown of the Saints' most notable roster developments for the 2024 season, including this year's draft class, as well as key acquisitions and departures via free agency and trade.

Table inside Article
Draft class (round-pick) Key additions Key departures
Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State (1-14) Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Jameis Winston, QB
Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama (2-41) Cedrick Wilson Jr., WR Michael Thomas, WR
Spencer Rattler, QB, South Carolina (5-150) Lucas Patrick, IOL Jimmy Graham, TE
Bub Means, WR, Pittsburgh (5-170) Chase Young, DE Andrus Peat, OL
Jaylan Ford, LB, Texas (5-175) Willie Gay Jr., LB Cameron Erving, OT
Khristian Boyd, DT, Northern Iowa (6-199) Khaleke Hudson, LB James Hurst, OT
Josiah Ezirim, OT, Eastern Kentucky (7-239) Will Harris, DB Max Garcia, OG
Trai Turner, OG
Malcolm Roach, DT
Zack Baun, LB
Lonnie Johnson, CB
Isaac Yiadom, CB
Marcus Maye, S

New faces to know

Klint Kubiak_
Klint Kubiak
Offensive coordinator

Hey, look: Derek Carr has a new offensive coordinator! Sweet. I mean, this has now become a yearly tradition for Derek, with Kubiak being his fourth OC in as many seasons, so why not? Jokes aside, Kubiak seems like a solid choice. He served as San Francisco's passing game coordinator in 2023 -- with the 49ers' aerial attack ranking fourth in the NFL -- and has a decade of NFL coaching experience. Oh, and he’s part of the ever-growing Mike Shanahan coaching tree. 

Chase Young
DE · Year 5

The Saints signed Young to a one-year, $13 million deal in March. I love this move. Everyone applauded the 49ers for flipping a third-round pick to get Young at this past season's trade deadline, but it didn’t really pay off. I mean, Young was great for one half during the Super Bowl, but that was about it. (He finished with 3.5 sacks in 12 games for San Francisco.) And yet, I still believe in the 25-year-old's raw ability. The Saints are getting a very talented player who was the second overall pick in 2020. And you have to believe Young is motivated to get the big-money deal that never materialized this offseason. This could end up being a great signing for the Saints, who needed a lot of help getting to the quarterback after posting just 34 sacks last season (tied for 28th in the league).

Taliese Fuaga
OT · Rookie

I know, I know. The Saints have been down this road before, drafting an aggressive tackle with a pick in the teens (SEE: Trevor Penning in 2022). It’s like when one of your friends is visiting town and wants to go drink Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. You're immediately like, "Nope, not doing that again." But then you do. I will say, Fuaga was one of my favorite linemen in this year’s draft. While the nasty streak is similar to that of Penning, Fuaga's much more athletic and refined as a blocker. I believe the Oregon State product will be a valuable asset to an offensive line that could use some help -- partially because, yes, the Penning pick hasn't worked out as planned.

State of the QB room

It's solid. Derek Carr gets a lot of criticism -- the vast majority of it unwarranted. I believe Derek is a good-to-great NFL quarterback who can lead this team to the playoffs. What the haters don't want you to know is that Carr led the NFL with 12 touchdown passes -- against just one pick -- in Weeks 15 through 18. He had at least three touchdown passes in three of his final four games. I know it was a bit of a rough go in the early part of Carr's debut season in NOLA, but I really liked what we saw out of him late, leading the Saints to a 4-1 mark in the closing stretch. As mentioned above, Derek does have another new offensive coordinator, but I place my trust in his ability to adapt. Bottom line: I believe in Derek Carr, and you should, too.

Most important non-QB

Alvin Kamara
RB · Year 8

Kamara left minicamp early due to a contract dispute. I’m not sure what leverage the running back has, considering he’s entering Year 8 and fresh off his least-productive season, with career lows in rushing (694) and scrimmage yards (1,160). Not to mention, he already boasts the second-highest salary at the position. To be fair, Kamara earned that $15 million APY. After all, he is one of just four players in NFL history with at least 5,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards in his first seven seasons. Another one of those four: Christian McCaffrey, who played under the direction of Klint Kubiak last year. You see where I’m going with this. Kamara needs to be in camp and ready to go at the start of the regular season if the Saints are to flourish in 2024. 

My HOTTEST Saints fantasy take:

Buy stock in Rashid Shaheed.

This offense is suited for two receivers (and the running back) to feast in the passing game. In 2023, Shaheed tied Chris Olave for the team lead with five touchdown receptions, and all of them were bombs. Shaheed's five deep receiving touchdowns (20-plus air yards, per Next Gen Stats) ranked third in the NFL, behind only Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans. His 452 deep receiving yards were the league's fourth-highest total. Shaheed turned heads in 2023, but 2024 will be his FULL breakout.

2024 roadmap

Three key dates:

  • Week 2: at Dallas Cowboys. Both franchises feel like they could go either way: make a strong run to the playoffs or maybe just regress and crash.
  • Week 7 (Thursday): vs. Denver Broncos. The Saints face Sean Payton for the first time since he was traded to/hired by the Broncos. It's in the Superdome. In prime time. And you know me -- I love a good REVENGE GAME. (And if you didn't know that about me, now you do.)
  • Week 17: vs. Las Vegas Raiders. Like Payton, Derek Carr gets his first opportunity to go against his former team. Again, REVENGE GAME.

For 2024 to be a success, the Saints MUST:

A) Win the Super Bowl
B) Make a playoff run
C) Earn a playoff berth
D) Finish above .500
E) Show progress

My answer: C) Earn a playoff berth. Like I mentioned, the Saints haven't made the postseason since the 2020 campaign, so it's time to get back there. We touched on the savvy signing of Chase Young above, and I liked some of Mickey Loomis' overlooked moves in free agency -- most notably, the pickup of LB Willie Gay Jr. Loomis also grabbed a pair of instant-impact prospects -- OT Taliese Fuaga and CB Kool-Aid McKinstry -- in the first two rounds of the draft. Now New Orleans has to take the next step. You kind of get the feeling that if the Saints don't make the playoffs -- and I don't want to put that out in the universe (but I will) -- there will be huge changes in store for 2025.

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