Star wideout Marques Colston is coming off a decent campaign, with 943 yards and five touchdowns on 75 receptions during the regular season. But the yardage total was the second-lowest of his career, and the number of touchdowns was tied for the lowest. With Colston heading into his ninth year, now may be a good time to find a player to be a long-term complement to Kenny Stills, who dazzled last year as a rookie.
The Saints are set at safety with Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and Rafael Bush, and Keenan Lewis is entrenched as one of the starting cornerbacks. After Lewis, the picture is less certain. He’s a future Hall of Famer, but Champ Bailey turns 36 in June. Taking over after Jabari Greer suffered a year-ending knee injury, Corey White played well at times. Former 2010 first-round pick Patrick Robinson missed most of last season with a knee injury.
The Saints are set for now with defensive ends Cameron Jordan and Akiem Hicks. Jordan is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance after posting 12.5 regular-season sacks, fifth-most in the NFL, and Hicks led the defensive line in tackles with 56. But both are due to become unrestricted free agents after the 2015 season. Having another productive defensive end would give the Saints flexibility in their decision-making in future seasons.
At first glance, it seems the Saints are in decent shape at the position. Junior Galette in 2013 recorded 12 sacks, sixth-most in the NFL. Parys Haralson is back, and the Saints are expecting the return of Victor Butler, who missed 2013 with a knee injury. Yet Haralson and Butler are only signed through this season, so having someone waiting in the wings could be a consideration at some point in the draft.
After starter Brian de la Puente left for Chicago in April, backup lineman Tim Lelito became the first-stringer at the position. Lelito, a rookie last year, has accumulated some experience on the interior of the line after starting at right guard for two games. But he doesn’t have all that much experience, and the Saints have said they’d consider bringing in someone to compete with him for the starting center gig.
Ramon Antonio Vargas