A position-by-position look at where the New Orleans Saints stand heading into the 2016 offseason -- counting down from No. 13 to No. 1 in order of need for upgrades or replacements. At No. 8 is wide receiver.
Current depth chart:
Brandin Cooks. Age 22, signed through 2017 (with team option for 2018). 2016 salary and bonuses: $1.18 million. 2016 salary-cap number: $2.29 million.
Willie Snead. Age 23, scheduled to become exclusive rights free agent in 2017. 2016 salary and bonuses: $525,000. 2016 salary-cap number: $525,000.
Marques Colston. Age 32, signed through 2016. 2016 salary and bonuses: $3.2 million. 2016 salary-cap number: $5.9 million.
Brandon Coleman. Age 23, scheduled to become exclusive rights free agent in 2017. 2016 salary and bonuses: $525,000. 2016 salary-cap number: $525,000.
Reggie Bell. Age 23, signed to reserve/futures contract.
Shane Wynn. Age 23, signed to reserve/futures contract.
R.J. Harris. Age 23, signed to reserve/futures contract.
Kyle Prater. Age 23, signed to reserve/futures contract.
We have now reached the point on this list where every position ranks as a significant need. A strong argument could be made that the Saints should add another dynamic receiver to boost their offense -- especially if they wind up parting ways with Colston this offseason.
I’m not sure what will happen with Colston, who has become a No. 3 receiver at this point in his remarkable career. He’s still an asset in that part-time role, though it might require another pay cut for Colston to stay. Either way, Coleman needs to show more consistency this year and prove he’s ready to take the torch from Colston as the Saints’ next tall, physical receiving option.
The Saints are suddenly looking very young and thin at the receiver position. But the reason I still have it ranked so low on the priority list is because the Saints have proven time and time again that they can thrive without blue-chip talent at the receiver position (see: Colston, Lance Moore and Snead among other examples).
The Saints had the NFL’s No. 1 passing offense last year with Snead emerging from nowhere to rack up 984 receiving yards. Cooks, meanwhile, established himself as a true No. 1 weapon in his second year after being drafted in the first round in 2014. Cooks led the Saints with 1,138 yards and nine touchdowns.
One way or another, the position always seems to wind up in good hands.