49ers opponents offseason review 2014: New Orleans Saints

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We take a look at the New Orleans Saints in anticipation of the upcoming season.

The 2014 NFL Draft is officially a wrap, which means offseason additions are just about complete. There will be some small free agent additions here and there, but training camp rosters are just about set. With that in mind, we are back to review each of the 49ers 2014 opponents. Each team has gained and lost numerous players, so this series will help get you more familiar with the rosters of each opponent.

The big question coming into the offseason for the Saints was what to do about Jimmy Graham. After giving him a franchise tag, the question still isn't resolved. Graham contends that he should be franchised as a WR, while the Saints have franchised him as a TE. The difference is considerable, about $5 million, so the two parties are seeking arbitration to resolve this problem. The process has implications for the 49ers in a couple of ways: not only do we play the Saints this season (which is why you are reading this article right now), but Vernon Davis and the 49ers are likely following the process closely, with Davis hoping that Graham makes as much money as he can. Our very own overlord Fooch has some thoughts on the issue.

The Saints are confronting a few other problems this offseason, though-much of them stemming from salary cap problems. According to Over the Cap, the Saints are currently sitting at $1,804,988. In free agency, the Saints weren't able to bring in many new players, which is especially problematic given how many players they were forced to cut (or trade). Let's take a look at how they did in free agency.

Free Agency:

Additions: S Jairus Byrd, FB Erik Lorig, C Jonathan Goodwin

Losses: Malcolm Jenkins, RB Darren Sproles (trade), OT Charles Brown, S Roman Harper (cut), WR Lance Moore (cut), FB Jed Collins, DE Tom Johnson, CB Jabari Greer, LB Will Smith

The ratio of losses to additions is pretty obvious. And while this isn't necessarily a good indicator of roster strength, the presence of cut players and a trade indicates the necessity to stay under the cap. I think Harper had taken a few steps back the last couple of seasons, so I like the addition of Byrd. He can help shore up that secondary. And we all know Goodwin quite well. While I think it was time for the 49ers to part ways with him, he can still be a solid starter for a team in the NFL. Saints fans should be happy with his return.

Draft:

20. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
58. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
126. Khairi Fortt, OLB, California
167. Vinnie Sunseri, S, Alabama
169. Ronald Powell, OLB, Florida
202. Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State

From what I've read, people aren't too high on the Saints' draft. Most people like the first two picks, though some think that the 3rd round pick the Saints surrendered to move up for Cooks was too pricy. After that, it seems like most pundits aren't in favor of the draft. Fortt seems to have a lot of potential, but comes with injury concerns. Same with Powell. As a 49ers fan, I really won't criticize a team for taking a flyer on a talented player with injury concerns. All in all, I think Saints fans will be happy with Cooks. He's a speedster, who can really add another dimension to an already potent offense.

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