The New Orleans Saints had serious questions entering the season, especially on offense. With Jameis Winston taking the reins of an offensive unit without Michael Thomas or Tre’Quan Smith, Sean Payton was going to have to dig deep into his playbook and lean on the offensive line and Alvin Kamara. That is pretty much what they have done so far, going 4-2 after beating the Seattle Seahawks on Monday. The Saints have been up and down though. The usual suspects have come through but there needs to be more depth and a few other players stepping up. Let’s take a look at a few options for New Orleans.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Trade Deadline Previews.
The Saints Current Status
Current Record: 4-2
Division Status: Second in the NFC South
In the Playoff Picture: Yes
Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
Current NFL Draft Slot: 22nd Overall
Potential Trade #1: 2022 third-round pick and 2023 fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans for Brandin Cooks
The Saints need a wide receiver, that goes without saying. Why not bring back their first-round pick from 2014? Michael Thomas has been out all season and has no real timetable for a return. New Orleans just got Smith back this week but lost Deonte Harris. Marquez Callaway hasn’t been the breakout star some were projecting him to be at the beginning of the season (16 catches, 254 yards, 3 touchdowns). Harris is the only other player with at least 10 catches not named Kamara.
Cooks would fit in perfectly. He has 45 receptions for 502 yards and a TD. Those 45 catches would be more than Callaway, Harris, and the two Saints’ tight ends combined. Once Thomas returns, Cooks and he would complement each other well. Without a decent addition to this WR corps, teams will begin to take a page from what the Seahawks did in the second half on Monday and just double Kamara all night long. The Texans need the draft capital to start building a competitive squad. Trading their star wideout is a good start.
Potential Trade #2: 2022 fourth-round pick and 2023 fifth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Mike Gesicki
Another route the Saints could go is to get an excellent young tight end in lieu of a wideout. Gesicki has been a bright spot this season for a dismal Dolphins team. The former second-round pick already has 37 catches for 427 yards and a couple of TDs. The Saints have the combination of Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson. Neither of them has given Winston much consistency. Miami needs the picks to start rebuilding around Tua Tagavailoa or Deshaun Watson if that trade actually happens.
New Orleans obviously still has cap issues, but Gesicki is a free agent at the end of the year and the Saints are getting more compensatory picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The dolphins have plenty of cap space to sign their top target next year. However, Miami drafted Hunter Long in the third round this year and may be looking for a less expensive option at the position. It would certainly be worth it for Payton to make a move for a rental even if they don’t expect to sign Gesicki long-term.
Potential Trade #3: 2022 third-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Brandon Aiyuk
A change of scenery would do the former first-round pick a world of good. After 60 catches in his rookie season, Aiyuk has seemingly fallen out of favor in San Francisco. He has only nine catches and hasn’t eclipsed 40 yards in any game this season. He also has dealt with poor quarterback play from rookie Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. As it applies to Cooks as well, New Orleans did not draft a wide receiver until selecting Kawaan Baker in the seventh round.
Acquiring the 49ers receiver with two years left on his rookie deal would be a great move for the Saints and he is a cheaper option than Cooks as well. The Saints are no strangers to bringing in 49er receivers as they signed Emmanuel Sanders after the 2019 season. Aiyuk is a lot younger than Sanders was at the time and based on his production last season, there is no reason to believe he wouldn’t flourish in the Black and Gold.
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