Much attention will be paid this summer to the promised quarterback battle in New Orleans between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. But Sean Payton isn’t spending his spring days thinking at the uncertainty at that crucial position.
The Saints coach told NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson this week that one roster vacancy in particular is on the front of his mind.
“There’s one,” Payton said. “Look, corner is an area that we have to address here between now and the start of the season, and I think we’ll be able to find that.”
New Orleans has lost a number of defensive starters this offseason, including defensive linemen Trey Hendrickson and Sheldon Rankins, but their most significant departure might have been that of Janoris Jenkins. The Saints released him in mid-March, along with many other big-monied playmakers, in an attempt to get under the cap ahead of the new league year. His exit was supposed to free up money for a Marshon Lattimore extension, one that has yet to be worked out.
Payton’s right to fixate on cornerback. Across the Pro Bowler Lattimore, New Orleans currently boasts 33-year-old Patrick Robinson, Grant Haley and Keith Washington; neither of the latter two has started for the Saints. There’s room for improvement.
The Saints had been linked to free-agent veteran Richard Sherman back in March, but there has been no movement on that front since then. Sherman is among a slew of on-the-market CBs with starting experience; Casey Hayward and Bashaud Breeland are available.
If New Orleans wants to go younger and cheaper, the Saints can use one of their eight draft picks, which includes No. 28 overall, on a CB. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah connected Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr. to New Orleans in his latest mock draft.
Whoever fills the void by Jenkins will be responsible for making up his 805 snaps, three picks and 12 passes defensed from last season.
The mystery at cornerback isn’t quite as enthralling as the quandary at quarterback, but it’s one that Payton is just as set on resolving before fall.
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