The New Orleans Saints are a franchise going through a transition right now. After the retirement of legendary quarterback Drew Brees and several free-agent departures, New Orleans is in a difficult position going into the 2021 season. Several essential questions need to get answered on the Saints roster. It’s time to assess some of the critical positional battles that may define the 2021 New Orleans Saints season.
2021 New Orleans Saints Position Battles: Offense
The big storyline in the Saints offseason will revolve around the quarterback position. Jameis Winston is a former first-round pick with bags of experience. On the other hand, Taysom Hill is Sean Payton’s project that filled in last year when Brees got injured. The two quarterbacks are fascinating talents with their positives and weaknesses. Both are also under significant pressure as they look to step up after the retirement of a legend.
Hill started four games last year; he did a solid job and led the Saints to a 3-1 record. Winston may get viewed as the reclamation project. The former Tampa Bay signal-caller owns the arm strength, athleticism, and experience required to be successful in the NFL. It is audition season in the Big Easy; who will be the starting quarterback for the 2021 New Orleans Saints is the biggest storyline to follow.
Jared Cook’s departure opened a starting spot on the depth chart at tight end for the 2021 New Orleans Saints. Second-year player Adam Trautman returns and will want to stake a claim to become TE1 in New Orleans. Trautman mainly featured in 2020 as a blocking tight end. His receiving yard total came in at a paltry 171 yards. Trautman is aware of the Saints offensive scheme, but it is a big ask for a sophomore player to step up and become a foundational part of the offense.
That is where Nick Vannett adds veteran experience to the tight end room as a dual-threat player. Vannett holds knowledge of various offensive systems, and his experience in different roles will keep him in good stead. Trautman is currently top of the Saints depth chart per ESPN; however, this position is certainly up for grabs throughout the offseason program. Tight end is one of the critical positions for the 2021 New Orleans Saints to figure out.
2021 New Orleans Saints Position Battles: Defense
Winning franchises get built upon cornerstone players. Cam Jordan is one of those foundational players for the Saints. However, the Saints drafted defensive end, Payton Turner, in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Whenever a team drafts a player in the first round, they place an expiration date on the incumbent player. Jordan is entering his 11th season in the NFL. Turner will arrive into the organization as a hungry, young buck ready to prove himself.
Jordan cooled off last year as he only posted 7.5 sacks; in the previous three years, Jordan broke the double-digit barrier. It is an intriguing topic to watch through the Summer. Turner now has an entire offseason to take snaps away from Jordan. The youngster vs the grizzled veteran is always a great training camp story.
The starting job at nose tackle feels wide open. Sheldon Rankins left the team in free agency. There is now a big hole alongside Marcus Davenport. Shy Tuttle is currently atop the depth chart, but it feels like any of these four players could snag the starting spot. Lorenzo Neal got drafted from Purdue. He is a formidable, solid block-shedding run stuffer. Last year, rookie Tackle John Penisini became the starter in Detroit; it is a position that can see players make the transition smoothly from college to NFL. The same can get said about Josiah Bronson.
Bronson is a hard-working, energetic player that can push the pocket. The two youngsters own the essential tools to contend in training camp. Whether that is enough to supplant Tuttle and Roach, only time will tell. Shy Tuttle owns New Orleans’ defensive system and is a significant presence in the trenches. He must enjoy a solid offseason because there is plenty of competition regarding this spot on the 2021 New Orleans Saints starting roster.