NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - To the dismay of fans, players, and coaches, the offseason begins sooner than expected for the New Orleans Saints.
A team with Super Bowl aspirations lost a heartbreaking Wild Card playoff game in overtime to 26-20 to the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 5.
As exciting and challenging the 2019 season was for the Saints, the 2020 off-season is shaping up to be equally daunting.
The Saints have 25 players that will become free agents on March 18.
That list includes offensive lineman Patrick Omameh and Andrus Peat, as well as, key defensive players cornerback Eli Apple, strong safety Vonn Bell, and veteran linebacker A.J. Klein.
The biggest challenge for the 2019 regular season was finding a way to win without starting quarterback Drew Brees.
Bridgewater, who first came to the team in 2018, stepped in after Brees was sidelined with a thumb injury in Week 2. He went 5-0 as a starter, with impressive wins over Seattle, Dallas, and Chicago.
Hill was the bright spot of the Saints playoff loss to the Vikings, passing and rushing for 50 yards and catching a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. He also provided a spark on offense throughout the season.
Brees, who went 8-3 as a starter this season, broke Peyton Manning’s record for career touchdown passes a year after he broke Manning’s record for career passing yards. The quarterback who has been the heartbeat of the Saints team since 2006 declined to elaborate on his future after the Saints’ loss to the Vikings.
“I’m not making any comments on that other than as I’ve told you guys the last couple of years, I always take it one year at a time. I kind of re-evaluate each offseason, find the things I want to get better at and move along,” Brees told reporters after the Saints’ loss on Jan 5.
However, the biggest challenge for the 2020 offseason will be determining which quarterbacks will stay and unfortunately, possibly which will go.
Brees was selected to his 13th Pro Bowl in 2019 and was the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December 2019.
Bridgewater, a Miami native, signed a one-year deal with the Saints in 2019 offseason after declining a two-year deal from the Miami Dolphins.
Both Bridgewater and Brees are unrestricted free agents, meaning they can either re-sign with the Saints or any team they like.
Hill is a restricted free agent, meaning the Saints have the right to match an offer from another team.
It’s unclear how the Saints will take care of the quarterback situation in the offseason. Two things that are clear: all three quarterbacks are fierce competitors and other NFL teams have taken notice.
With the Wild Card round to the Vikings, the Saints will have the 24th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23.
Here is the full list of Saints players who will become free agents in the 2020 offseason:
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
QB, Drew Brees (Age: 41)
QB, Teddy Bridgewater (Age: 28)
RB, Dwayne Washington (Age: 26)
FB, Zach Line (Age: 30)
OG, Andrus Peat (Age: 26)
RT, Patrick Omameh (Age: 30)
ILB, Stephone Anthony (Age: 28)
CB, Eli Apple (Age: 25)
CB, Johnson Bademosi (Age: 30)
SS, Von Bell (Age: 25)
OLB, A.J. Klein (Age: 29)
OLB, Josh Martin (Age: 28)
DT, David Onyemata (Age: 27)
DE, Noah Spence (Age: 26)
FS, D.J. Swearinger (Age: 29)
ILB, Manti Te’o (Age: 29)
CB, P.J. Williams (Age: 27)
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
QB, Taysom Hill (Age: 30)
WR, Austin Carr (Age: 26)
LS, Zach Wood (Age: 27)
CB, Justin Hardee (Age: 26)
OG, Cameron Tom (Age: 25)
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
WR, Keith Kirkwood (Age: 26)
SS, J.T. Gray (Age: 24)
WR, Lil’jordan Humphrey (Age: 22)
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