The New Orleans Saints find themselves in the market for a veteran quarterback this offseason. The Saints are expected to make a play for free-agent quarterback Baker Mayfield, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis should aim higher than Mayfield, who represents a decent fall-back option at best.
The Saints have been courting the recently released Derek Carr. Carr took a visit to New Orleans prior to being released by the Las Vegas Raiders. Carr ultimately decided against waiving his no-trade clause and is now officially a free agent. Carr should remain the Saints’ top priority, but they are facing competition for his services from their arch-rival Carolina Panthers and New York Jets.
Carr’s red-hot market indicates the Saints need to sort through potential backup plans. With an abundance of franchises searching for new starting quarterbacks, and with their being limited options available via free agency and trade, it’s conceivable to believe Mayfield will open the 2023 campaign as somebody’s starter. It could be in New Orleans.
Mayfield began the 2022 season with the Carolina Panthers but was released after just seven regular-season appearances and six starts. Mayfield was off to the worst start of his career, “leading” the Panthers to a 1-5 record while completing a career-low 57.8% of his passing attempts. Mayfield threw six touchdowns and six interceptions. Mayfield and the Panthers mutually agreed to part ways midseason following the departure of Matt Rhule.
Mayfield was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams to replace an injured Matthew Stafford. Mayfield played quality football under the tutelage of Sean McVay, including a come-from-behind victory over the Raiders in his first appearance. Mayfield later oversaw a 51-14 thrashing of the Denver Broncos while completing 85% of his passes on Christmas Day. Mayfield’s second act better positioned himself for free agency.
New Orleans’ quarterback room is expected to look significantly different in 2023. The Saints could create $12.8 million in cap savings by designating Jameis Winston as a Post-June-1 release, per Spotrac. Winston suffered a string of injuries in 2022 and failed to establish himself as their long-term starter.
Winston’s health forced the Saints to start veteran journeyman Andy Dalton. A declining game manager, Dalton managed to keep the Saints from bottoming out in the NFC South, leading them to a semi-respectable 7-10 record. Dalton is now set to become an unrestricted free agent. The Saints could retain Dalton as a backup quarterback via a low-cost deal, but they’d have to pair him with a starting-caliber quarterback like Carr or Mayfield.
The Saints also lack the draft capital necessary to position themselves to draft Bryce Young, Will Levis, C.J. Stroud, or Anthony Richardson—they only hold a late pick on day one. The Saints’ original 2023 first-round selection belongs to the Philadelphia Eagles as a result of an ill-advised 2022-for-2023 pick swap. There’s going to be a veteran quarterback, not a rookie, under center for the Saints next season.
The Saints remain hot on Carr’s trail, as do various other suitors. New Orleans possesses limited options at quarterback, so Baker Mayfield could conceivably start for the Saints in 2023 even if it’s not ideal.
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