Aside from the negatives, the Saints had a pretty good offseason. The team managed to replace guard Carl Nicks with Ben Grubbs, and they were able to sign WR Marques Colston to a long-term deal.
The Saints also brought in a lot of new key players. They addressed some of their defensive flaws that were exposed last season through free agency—on a limited cap space—improving their roster to make a run at the Lombardi trophy.
While the new guys will no doubt be key contributors to the team's future success, let's not forget about some important players who have done it for the Saints already, and who deserve to be signed to long-term deals if the Saints want to continue to have success.
Let's take a look at the few that should, shall we?
This is Drew Brees. He deserves to don the black and gold until he calls it quits. Brees broke records last season, setting a new single-season passing record with 5,476 yards. He also threw 46 touchdowns—46! He completed 71 percent of his passes and had a 110.6 passer-rating.
He's well respected in the Saints' locker room and throughout the NFL.
Brees isn't just the New Orleans Saints quarterback, he's their leader. With no Sean Payton, he's going to have to run the Saints' offense.
Without Brees, the Saints wouldn't have won the Super Bowl two years ago. He turned this franchise around.
If anyone deserves a long-term extension, it's Brees.
Jimmy Graham is a beast. It's crazy to think that he just played one year of college football.
In just his second season in the NFL, the 2010 third-round draft choice has become a star. He played a vital role in the Saints' high-scoring offense. He was No. 1 on the Saints last season in receptions and touchdowns, finishing with 99 receptions for 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Brees' favorite target is a 6'7", 265-lb scoring machine. It's hard to stop Graham. And the Saints should lock him into a long-term deal soon before his stock rises any more and contract negotiations become a headache.
The Saints should lock in the speedy running back. Although the Saints employ a running back by committee game plan, the all-purpose threat was explosive, effective and a key in their offense and special teams.
Sproles ran for 603 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. But he did most of his damage catching passes out of the backfield. He had 86 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns, definitely showing the organization that he is worth more than the $6 million he's guaranteed.
He was more effective than Pierre Thomas. A backfield of Mark Ingram and Sproles would be dangerous. All Ingram has to do is step up and show the Saints he was worth the trouble the team went through to get him.