Saints training camp is underway, and depending on the day, either Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill is leading the quarterback battle to replaced retired Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The Saints’ run of four straight NFC South titles is favored to end on the NFL odds.
Analysis NFL New Orleans Saints
- Regular-season win total: 9
- Odds to win NFC South: +325
- Odds to win NFC: +1800
- Odds to win Super Bowl 56: +3300
New Orleans will open the season without two key players for sure. Star receiver Michael Thomas, the 2019 NFL Offensive Player of the Year when he set the league’s single-season catch record, will probably miss the first four games or so following ankle surgery. For some reason, Thomas had the surgery in June even though the issue dated to early last season. That didn’t sit well with coach Sean Payton.
“Well, look, it appears we’re gonna have to spend some time without him. It’s disappointing,” Payton said. “And we’ll work through it with the other players that are here. But the surgery took place, and obviously we would’ve liked that to happen earlier than later. And quite honestly, it should’ve.”
Thomas never said why he waited. Due to injury, he struggled with 40 catches for 438 yards in seven regular-season games last year and didn’t catch his first touchdown pass until the playoffs.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle David Onyemata was suspended six games by the NFL after testing positive for a banned substance. Naturally, Onyemata has no clue how it got into his system. Back in 2019, Onyemata received a one-game suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy surrounding marijuana. In 2020, Onyemata enjoyed a career year after totaling a high of 6.5 sacks, 44 tackles, and 16 quarterback hits. That sack total was third-best on the team.
New Orleans did add to the defense this week in re-signing linebacker Kwon Alexander to a one-year deal. Alexander logged seven games with the Saints last season after being traded from San Francisco. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder started seven games for New Orleans and had 27 tackles, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. His season ended in December, however, when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a Christmas Day victory over the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints released Alexander in March before he was due to make $13.4 million in salary and bonuses this year.
“All offseason, he’s someone we’ve really paid close attention to where he’s at with his rehab,” Payton said. “He’s someone we wanted to have back and it was just a matter of working out the right contract.
In addition, the team placed second-year cornerback Keith Washington on the injured reserve list, bringing in Adonis Alexander to replace him. Alexander, a 24-year-old free agent, played at Virginia Tech in college before landing on the Washington Commanders in the 2018 NFL supplementary draft. He has bounced around since. The Saints added also veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara as they attempt to bolster a position that Payton labeled a “must.” Amukamara, a first-round draft pick by the Giants in 2011, was signed and released by the Raiders last season before landing on the Cardinals‘ practice squad.
There’s still no clear leader in regards to the QB battle between Winston and Hill. Winston appears to have the early edge in the competition, based on the years of experience he has starting in the league. Hill has the results in the Saints offense, which certainly plays in his favor.
Winston has generated a ton of buzz so far not because of his prowess with the deep ball, but because he is consistently connecting with Kamara and others on timing throws and efficient checkdowns.
10-6 record, second in NFC South.
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