New Orleans Saints Offseason Overview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

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New Orleans Saints Offseason Overview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

My overview of the New Orleans Saints' offseason continues with a look at the receivers.  I earlier led off this series with a look at the quarterbacks and then the running backs.

A look back at 2008

In 2008, quarterback Drew Brees proved one thing to his receiving corps: if you are open, he will find you.

From Lance Moore to Buck Ortega, an astonishing 16 players caught at least one pass for the Saints last season.  Of those 16 players, 11 caught at least one touchdown pass.

Third-year wide out Marques Colston was expected to have a huge season after posting 1,000-yard seasons in his first two seasons in the NFL.  Colston, though, suffered a thumb injury in week one and proceeded to miss the next five games and went a sixth without a reception.

The Saints went 2-4 during that stretch.

Colston's injury allowed another receiver, Lance Moore, to emerge. 

From an undrafted practice squad player in 2005 to the Saints' fourth wide receiver in 2007, Moore's rise as the Saints' leading receiver in 2009 was a pleasant surprise.  He led the team in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. 

Midway through the season, Moore recorded a touchdown reception in five straight games.

While there were pleasant surprises like Moore, there were also some major disappointments.

The Saints made an offseason trade for Jeremy Shockey.  Shockey battled injuries for much of the year and didn't catch a touchdown pass. 

Shockey had maybe his worst season as a pro.  He had a career low for yards and  touchdowns and had a couple of key fumbles.

Second-year pro Robert Meachem looked as if he was ready to make a huge contribution this season with an impressive preseason. 

Meachem was inactive for week one but scored touchdowns in weeks two and four.  Meachem's downfall came in week five against the Vikings

Meachem dropped an easy pass that would have resulted in a first down.  He also committed a false start penalty on third and five that derailed a drive.

A look forward at 2009

Moore is a restricted free agent and will be one of the Saints' high priorities.  Since Moore went undrafted, if he were to be signed by another team, the Saints would not receive any compensation.

Local product Devery Henderson is the Saints' only deep threat and is a free agent.  I think the Saints will let him test the market.  Despite his high average yards per catch, Henderson is not worth a long-term, multi-million dollar contract when he only contributes two catches per game.

I think the Saints will also cut ties with David Patten.  After participating in every game in 2007 and catching 54 passes, Patten only played in five games in 2008 and caught just 11 passes.  Patten will turn 35 before the start of the season.

The Saints will head into the 2009 season with Colston and Moore as the starters and Meachem filling the role as a slot receiver.  If Meachem can step up his game and become a more consistent target, the Saints can boast one of the best receiving trios in the NFL.

At the tight end position, Billy Miller could compete for the starting job.  Miller was fifth on the team with 45 receptions and fourth on the team with 579 receiving yards.

Overall

Even with the potential losses of Patten and Henderson, the Saints are pretty set at receiver.  I think the Saints may go shopping for a deep threat to replace Henderson. 

The Saints do not need to chase the expensive free agents like T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Bobby Engram.  Speedster Hank Baskett is a free agent but is restricted to the Eagles.

With the starters set and Drew Brees' ability to make any receiver better, the Saints can bring in young receivers with decent hands and can run precise routes.

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