Saints enter free agency with quarterback a top priority

March 10, 2022 GMT
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Winston arguably tops the list of free agents because New Orleans appeared on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 31.  (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Winston arguably tops the list of free agents because New Orleans appeared on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 31.  (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Winston arguably tops the list of free agents because New Orleans appeared on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 31.  (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Winston arguably tops the list of free agents because New Orleans appeared on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 31. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston looks for a receiver during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks on Oct. 25, 2021, in Seattle. Winston arguably tops the list of free agents because New Orleans appeared on track to make the playoffs to start the post-Drew Brees era when Winston's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Oct. 31. (AP Photo/John Froschauer, File)

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (9-8)

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LT Terron Armstead, S Marcus Williams, QB Jameis Winston, DB P.J. Williams, WR Tre’Quan Smith, LB Kwon Alexander, RB Dwayne Washington, RB Ty Montgomery, S Jeff Heath, QB Trevor Siemian, DT Jalyn Holmes, TE Garrett Griffin.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR-KR Deonte Harris, DT Shy Tuttle

NEEDS: The Saints’ most immediate need is at quarterback. Bringing back Winston could be an option if the Saints are confident in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery. New Orleans also could be in the market for an offensive tackle if it loses Armstead, and for a safety if the Saints decide against bringing back Marcus Williams, on whom they used their franchise tag in 2021. Running back depth also has become an issue because of Alvin Kamara’s arrest stemming from a fight in Las Vegas during Pro Bowl weekend. He could be facing a considerable suspension. And while the Saints expect top receiver Michael Thomas to return healthy, they still need depth behind him, particularly if they lose Smith. But before the Saints can address any needs, they also must cut around $30 million in 2022 salaries just to get under the salary cap. It all adds up to a challenging offseason as New Orleans transitions from the retirement of Sean Payton to his replacement at head coach, Dennis Allen.

AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $30 million over.

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