NO.saintspanthers2727.123118

New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) runs the New Orleans Saints offense against the Carolina Panthers during the first half Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Saints lost 33-14.

MOBILE, Ala. — The New Orleans Saints spent a third-round pick to get a closer look at Teddy Bridgewater this season.

If the team likes what it saw in the quarterback, and the reviews from his teammates were all positive throughout the season, one of the things it has to figure out in the coming months is how much it is willing to invest in one position.

Drew Brees isn’t cheap, and Bridgewater should field some very competitive offers this offseason if he reaches the open market.

But the thing is, the Saints aren’t looking at it through such a rigid prism.

“I never looked at it that way,” general manager Mickey Loomis said. “We don’t sit up on the board and allocate 'X' percent, position by position. We just don’t do that. We’re aware of where the buckets lay with teams, but it is so influenced by your draft picks and who is playing well at that those low-cost numbers.

“There is not a linear correlation: ‘Hey, if you invest 'X' amount in this position, you’re going to be good.’ But we’re aware.”

Still, seeing what the Saints attempt to do with Bridgewater this offseason will be fascinating. Brees is currently set to count as a $33.5 million hit to the cap — a number that could get lowered — while Bridgewater could also command a significant salary this offseason.

New Orleans already has a pick invested in Bridgewater, but Loomis said that wouldn’t influence any decision the team makes moving forward.

The Saints could also potentially get the pick back through the compensatory formula if Bridgewater signs with another team this offseason, though it is unclear how that will impact their approach to free agency if it becomes apparent Bridgewater will not return.

As of Monday, the quarterback hadn’t yet begun processing what could come next, except for knowing that he wants to find the right situation for himself and that he couldn’t let his affinity for the city and the team be the only factor behind his decision. 

“You have to separate the two,” he said. “For one, you have a mindset that you have to put yourself first sometimes. But at the end of the day, too, you want to be in the best position as a player to succeed in this league. That’s something that I’m looking forward to, just to continue to be in a situation that allows me to succeed in this league as a player and a man.”

The other thing Bridgewater has to consider is that he would not be able to start here until Brees decides decides to move on. 

The Saints haven't started looking at how things could play out this offseason; after all, the season just ended days ago, and in dramatic fashion. That process will play out over the next several weeks.

The team will have big decisions to make.

Running back Mark Ingram and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison are among the starters who could reach free agency. The Saints will also have decisions to make on players like cornerback P.J. Williams, linebacker Craig Robertson, safety Chris Banjo and tackle Jermon Bushrod. Kicker Wil Lutz can become a restricted free agent, and defensive end Alex Okafor can opt out of his contract.

That means a lot of core players are coming back to a team that did enough to make the Super Bowl — but Loomis still sees several areas where the Saints can improve.

“I think there’s always holes. There’s always holes,” he said. “There’s always things that you feel like you’re desperate to get. You’re never satisfied. And we shouldn’t be. We’re not perfect in every position, by any stretch of the imagination. “

So while the Saints will look to add talent however they can this offseason, they'll make those moves with an eye on the future. Many members of the young core will soon be eligible to sign contract extensions, including wide receiver Michael Thomas.

New Orleans wants to maintain as much flexibility as possible so it has the assets to retain the players worth keeping, while also doing what it can to field the best possible team next season.

“We have to have an eye on the guys (that) are coming up. They performed; they’ve earned the right to contracts,” Loomis said. “We've got to come to agreements. It’s got to be good for us, too, now. It’s not, ‘Hey, here’s a checkbook.’ ”

And it shouldn’t play out that way.

The Saints are good enough to contend again next season by making a few additional moves and retaining a couple of players, but they need to make the right moves — for today and for tomorrow.


Can't see video below? Click here.



Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​