It's that time of year again for football fans. A time when your favorite team's season is on life support, and you start peaking ahead at their future and what they can get.
Some say training camp is the "fresh start" of the new football season, but I say the biggest fresh start and hope for fans for the next year starts the opening day of free agency and ends when the undrafted rookies sign after the draft.
Saints fans are in that mode, and I am here to help guide you to the players who could help the most at erasing the memory of this lost season.
Some of these players will be in the draft, and some might be free agents or cap casualties, but all would be great targets that New Orleans must have in their sights come 2013.
Jake Long is on injured reserve this season with a triceps injury, and when he comes back it's highly unlikely that the Miami Dolphins will welcome him back with open arms.
The Dolphins are fighting the idea of paying a guy "franchise left tackle" money when they think he isn't up to that caliber anymore.
The Saints would love to take him off your hands, Miami.
Long will end up being released, and, with New Orleans usually hanging on to players they have developed a little too long, there might not be a spot open in the Big Easy, but his talent will make one.
My guess is, in this scenario, that the Saints keep Jermon Bushrod, sign Long and move him to the right side and let Zach Strief be a reliable backup. Strief is better in that role, and the Saints could use depth along the line if you hadn't noticed this season.
There is a trend in the free agents that the Saints should target. They are all veterans who are injured and can be signed at a high-risk/low-reward level.
Brent Grimes is no different.
He was on pace to be one of the biggest free agents after the 2012 season, but then he injured his Achilles in the opening game of the year versus the Chiefs.
Now, who knows what will be Grimes' market, but the last free agent that we snagged from Atlanta worked out pretty well.
This one could as well, considering that Jabari Greer has obviously lost a step, Patrick Robinson is maddeningly inconsistent and Johnny Patrick, the nickelback heading into the year, has been awful.
Bring in some fresh blood and see if it raises the game of others in his unit because it worked out well for the linebackers this year.
Look, let's face facts: Sedrick Ellis is terrible. Some of that derives from him being a Top 10 pick who the Saints traded up for to secure, and some comes from the fact that he really does stink.
But, just like I said in an previous slide, the Saints are loyal to "their guys" to a fault, so Ellis will probably get a cheap one- or two-year deal to stay on since he's had his moments this year.
Why not just replace him with the guy who New Orleans originally wanted in that same draft? A guy who has been miscast as an end in a 3-4 defense since his second year in the league. A guy who is a native of Louisiana and has some of his best games in the state playing for the LSU tigers.
That man is Glenn Dorsey, and this should be a no-brainer.
Just like the other vets on this list, Dorsey is on injured reserve, but, unlike the other vets, Dorsey brings a little home-cooking and could resurrect his career in the building he won a National Championship in, the Superdome.
He would also fit better in Coach Steve Spagnuolo's defense better than Ellis.
The Saints will be picking around the 10-14 range in the draft, and there are just a couple of players that come to mind in that area.
The first being big Jake Matthews from Texas A&M.
Johnny 'Heisman" can thank the big tackles, Matthews and Luke Joeckel, for keeping him clean to make those outrageous plays this past season.
While his teammate is going to go in the Top 5—maybe even number one—and is the prototypical franchise left tackle, Matthews is a great prospect in his own right, who makes a living on that right side of the line.
He could play left tackle, but where he excels is on the right. He has the lineage of great players in his family, and I have no doubt he would be an immediate upgrade and a 10-year starter.
You can't go wrong with either Dion Jordan or Barkevious Mingo at this point in the draft, but I just don't see Mingo lasting until the Saints pick.
He has more productivity than Jordan at the collegiate level and is less of a question mark than him.
With that being said, Jordan could become the next Jason Pierre-Paul.
He has all of the physical tools and raw ability to excel very rapidly in the NFL.
He could team up with Cameron Jordan to form a terror of a duo for teams to deal with for years to come.