4 moves the Saints should make after signing Derek Carr
The quarterback question has been answered, but the work isn’t done. Signing Derek Carr alone isn’t going to get the New Orleans Saints into the playoff hunt. They need to work on retaining some of their own free agents and begin looking for upgrades from around the league.
With that in mind, here are four moves the Saints can get started on right away in developing Carr’s supporting cast. He’s already the best quarterback in the NFC South. Opening up more resources and getting him more help could make him one of the best passers in the entire conference:
Re-sign tight end Juwan Johnson
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Johnson broke out last season with 7 touchdown receptions, and he played more snaps than any other skills position player on the New Orleans offense. He’s the kind of big, athletic target that Carr enjoyed working with in Darren Waller. He’s also a restricted free agent which gives the Saints several options in retaining him. They’ve made their intentions of upgrading at tight end clear this offseason, but there’s more room for growth in replacing Adam Trautman as the No. 2 tight end than in moving on from Johnson on top of the depth chart.
Talk shop with Michael Thomas
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Thomas is expected to be released at the start of the new league year on March 15 with a post-June 1 designation for salary cap purposes, but he could return now that the Saints have a quarterback they believe in. He’s lobbied for them to sign Carr. If he and the Saints can reach an agreement where he returns on a new deal with a reduced salary and plenty of incentives, he could reestablish himself as one of the league’s best receivers.
Make some calls on Allen Robinson
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If Thomas isn’t interested in returning after all, the Saints could instead look to Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Allen Robinson as a veteran No. 2 to pair with Chris Olave. He was a dud for the Rams last year, but everyone was on that roster amid a serious injury bug and their Super Bowl hangover. The Rams are reportedly willing to pay much of his salary to facilitate a trade, which makes him an option for New Orleans. If the Saints could get him at a discount for a fifth or sixth round pick, this move makes sense.
Give Jameis Winston a head start on free agency
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Winston is still under contract for 2023, but the Saints can save $12.8 million by releasing him with a post-June 1 designation (though they wouldn’t receive those savings until June 2). His contract is too expensive for a backup role and he deserves a head start on free agency in finding his new team and putting himself in a position to do well. It’s a shame things didn’t work out in New Orleans, but signing Carr effectively ends his era in Saints history.