They finished out 2011 with a 13-3 regular season and went 1-1 in the playoffs. They had a successful campaign this year, and they will only get better in the offseason.
New Orleans has a good amount of key free agents again this offseason, but I believe that Mickey Loomis and company will be able to keep the guys that we truly need. The Saints will not let any player walk unless they feel that they can move on without them.
In recent years, players like Scott Fujita, Usama Young and Remi Ayodele have left for more money elsewhere, but the Saints recovered and honestly got better without them. It is not any different this season. Some key players may go, and some will stay, but either way the Saints will still be a competitor in 2012.
Arguably the most important part of the offseason is coming up in just a few months and that is the NFL Draft.
The Saints will mostly be filling depth on their roster in the draft, but we could see some key guys come onto the black and gold this year. Depending on what happens in free agency, we could see the Saints filling holes through the draft.
No matter what happens before the draft, there are some guys that the Saints undoubtedly need to take a look at. They will not get all of these players, but I could see the Saints landing anywhere from one to three of these players in the upcoming draft.
Let's take a look at six players the Saints should target in the 2012 NFL Draft.
I wrote about Jake Bequette in mock draft, and I am still very high on this defensive end from Arkansas.
I believe that this end could be the 2012 version of J.J. Watt, and I would love to see the Saints land him in the draft. Bequette is a 6'4" 263 pound end projected to go in the fourth round, but I would not be bothered to see the Saints take him as early as the third.
Bequette is a player that is non-stop and always gives 100 percent on the field. He may not be the most talented or athletic defensive end in this class, but he is among the leaders in work ethic and hustle.
I believe that a coach like the Saints new defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, values worth ethic very highly.
The Saints need a good pass rushing end, and Bequette could easily develop into that. He is better against the pass than the run, and that is okay. He has all the needed intangibles and rarely gets injured, two things that cannot be taught.
If the Saints take a chance on Bequette, then I think he may be the pass rushing end we have all been waiting for.
Chandler Jones is a player that excites me more and more every time I watch film on him.
The New Orleans Saints could definitely use this guy. Jones is another pass rushing defensive end, and he reminds me a lot of Jason Pierre-Paul. I desperately wanted the Saints to take Pierre-Paul a few years ago, but they were unable to get him. Now they have a chance to take his clone by drafting Jones in 2012.
This Syracuse product has seen a recent rise in his stock and is projected to go in the third round.
Jones is another guy that has high intensity and never stops on the field. His film shows the ability to make a tackle ten yards down field and that Jones is capable of running down the ball carrier.
The Saints could use Jones' ability to make tackles on a consistent basis and he has shown good production while at Syracuse. Jones also has shown great durability while in college and that is another thing that the Saints, and any other NFL team, take at a high value.
It also helps that Jones' brother, Jon, is the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Not to mention, their other brother, Arthur, is a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens.
There is no doubt that Jones comes from a very athletic bloodline and I would love to see him put to action in New Orleans.
Trumaine Johnson is a freak of an athlete that could be a great player for the New Orleans Saints.
Johnson played cornerback for the Montana Grizzlies in the FCS. He stands at 6'2" and weighs in at 205 pounds. Johnson is a huge corner and that is needed in today's NFL to defend players like Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.
I would love to see the Saints pick up this young corner, not because they necessarily need him, but because of his potential.
Let's face it, the Saints are pretty stacked at the corner position. They will go into 2012 with Jabari Greer, Patrick Robinson, and Johnny Patrick. Tracy Porter is a free agent and will likely walk away in the offseason, but he does have a chance to come back. Even if he doesn't the Saints still have depth in the corner spot.
However, Johnson is a guy that could potentially play safety, and the Saints could use some depth there.
They have Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper as their starters, but Jonathan Amaya and Isa Abdul-Quddus are not viable starters if Harper or Jenkins gets hurt. Not to mention that Harper may struggle in Spagnuolo's defense where he will be expected to play more coverage.
Johnson would be a great back-up and instant special teams star. He could also be the future if Harper or Greer were to ever leave the Saints or when they retire.
Lavonte David is another playmaker that the New Orleans Saints should definitely take a look at in the 2012 NFL Draft.
David is an outside linebacker at Nebraska and is projected to go in the first or second round of the draft. This is a bit of a problem for the Saints since their first pick does not come until the end of the second round, number 59 to be exact.
David could be gone by then, but the Saints should take him if he isn't, or possibly even trade up for this kid.
While at Nebraska David showed excellent production on the field, as well as the intangibles and durability needed to play in the NFL. The Saints could use a playmaker at the outside linebacker position.
New Orleans has young guys with potential in Martez Wilson, Nate Bussey and Jonathan Casillas, but David is a guy that could step in and make an immediate impact for the Saints. I would love to see this talented linebacker in the black and gold in 2012.
The New Orleans Saints need to take a look at Boise State's former quarterback, Kellen Moore.
Moore is a quarterback that has just about everything needed to play in the NFL, except height. Many people believe that Moore's lack of height will prevent him from being a successful quarterback at the next level. These are all the same things that people told Drew Brees back when he was coming out of Purdue.
The Saints currently have another quarterback on the roster that was "too short" to be any good in the National Football League. Chase Daniel is the Saints' current back-up and he is one of the most reliable second string quarterbacks in the game.
In fact, Daniel could leave this offseason as a restricted free agent, but even if he returns, the Saints should take a shot on Moore.
Moore could potentially come in and challenge Daniel for the back-up role and may even surprise the Saints. Brees just turned 33 and still has a good four or five years left, but Moore could be the Saints quarterback of the future.
New Orleans should definitely bring in Moore in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Greg Childs is a wide receiver from Arkansas that I would absolutely love to see in a New Orleans Saints' uniform in 2012.
Childs is a whopping 6'3" and 215 pounds and the definition of a possession receiver. The Saints will likely lose either Robert Meachem or Marques Colston in the offseason, or possibly both, and they will need a replacement.
Both Meachem and Colston are tall receivers that Drew Brees can hit down the field and Childs could come in and take their place.
The knock on Childs is his speed. He is fast, but will not blaze by many people as Saints fans have seen Meachem and Devery Henderson do for years now. However, Colston and Jimmy Graham are by no means fast, and they do just fine in the Saints offense.
On the other hand, Childs is very tall and has great hands. He shows good intangibles, but does have some durability issues. This may be a problem for the Saints since they have dealt with injury-prone receivers, but Childs is still worth the pick.
The Saints have done an excellent job of developing receivers in the past, and they can do the same with Childs. Receivers' coach Curtis Johnson did leave to become the head coach of Tulane, but the Saints will still be able to help Childs.
I would love to see this kid playing in New Orleans in 2012.