INDIANAPOLIS — The Saints currently have some holes on their roster.
Right now, while many free agents remain unsigned, the team sets the board as if those players are no on the roster, even if they expect them to return. The general assumption is that Drew Brees will be in New Orleans next season, Taysom Hill's name is the only one on the board at quarterback since Chase Daniel is also set to become a free agent.
So, right now quarterback would be considered a must, though it's unlikely the team expects it to stay that way much longer with Brees expected to re-sign sooner than later. In other cases, New Orleans is a little bit more serious about preparing for the possibility of players departing.
"You have to look at your roster like some of these free agents are gone," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "Senio (Kelemete) has been a valuable piece to what we do. He played something like 60 percent of the snaps. We have to make sure we'll be real on top of this interior line class. I think the front seven defensively you look real closely at."
The word around Indianapolis at this week's scouting combine is that Kelemete will find a healthy market when free agency opens on March 14. While he served as a reserve guard in New Orleans, other teams are expected to give him the opportunity to start. The Saints will likely remain interested depending on the price.
Defensive end Alex Okafor could also have other suitors. A source indicated that New Orleans would like to bring the veteran back, but he is expected to have some interest from other teams. Okafor was off to a strong start last season, recording 4 ½ sacks through 10 games before suffering a torn Achilles.
Saints fullback Zach Line is also receiving a little bit of interest, and sources say the Saints have shown interest in bringing both he and fullback John Kuhn back. It is not clear if the two players will be signed to compete in camp or if only one will return.
Linebacker Michael Mauti would also like to return but is not expected to have much interest outside of New Orleans.
New Orleans could also soon be in the market for an offensive tackle. Payton said he has not yet spoken to offensive Zach Strief, who has reportedly decided to retire, but noted how much he's meant to the team.
"He's been fantastic," Payton said. "Zach's been unbelievable.