Defensive line, not QB, identified as Saints’ biggest need entering 2023 offseason

The New Orleans Saints offense averaged just 19.4 points per game in 2022 with Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston under center, but Pro Football Focus says all attention needs to go to the Saints defensive line as New Orleans’ biggest offseason priority in 2023.

It’s a sentiment shared by Cameron Jordan, who immediately began advocating for the Saints to spend the first-round pick they got from trading Sean Payton on a defensive tackle to help him out up front. But that’s an interesting take. PFF analyst Sam Monson had this to say in breaking down the biggest roster need for all 32 teams:

Marcus Davenport enters free agency having never really justified the aggressive trade the Saints made to move up and draft him. He produced just 34 pressures across 15 games this season and has never earned a PFF pass-rushing grade north of 82.0. He is also yet to play more than 550 snaps in a season.

With Cameron Jordan turning 34 by the time next season rolls around and the interior underachieving in 2022, the Saints need to reload on their defensive line in a big way.”

It’s true that the Saints took a step back up front, and that they’re working with a long list of pending free agents including starters like Davenport and interior lineman David Onyemata. They’ve also lost the unit’s position coach Ryan Nielsen and hired former Florida Gators defensive coordinator Todd Grantham as his likely replacement. The defensive line needs to be rebuilt. There aren’t any doubts about that.

But the single most pressing area of concern remains quarterback. The Saints can probably re-sign Dalton for cheap, and they do still have Winston under contract if they can mend fences after benching him last season, but they should aim higher in 2023. Settling for less means more of the same, and another miserable season on offense like we saw in 2022 would turn even the staunchest of Saints fans against Dennis Allen and his vision for this team.


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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire