Nicholas Tecce

Receiver Spot Up For Grabs On Saints Roster

Created on Mar. 26, 2014 6:00 AM EST

The Saints have had to make many emotional decisions this offseason, including the release of WR Lance Moore, who leaves behind a stellar eight-year career in New Orleans. As a result, the team is in the market for a wide receiver. Currently, the Saints have just two starters set for the upcoming season in veteran Marques Colston and speedy youngster Kenny Stills. On the depth chart, New Orleans also has Nick Toon, who saw limited action last season, and the newly re-signed Joe Morgan, who missed all of 2013 with a torn ACL.

Both Toon and Morgan are young and boast great potential, but have had limited opportunities to prove their value. In 2012, Morgan showed that he could be a big-play receiver, averaging nearly 38 yards per reception in limited action while Toon’s workload is far too marginal to draw conclusions from just yet. Therefore, the team will likely add more depth at the receiver position to create some competition before training camp begins. Whether that means signing free agents or drafting a wideout remains to be seen.

One name that has been circling the rumor mill as a possible candidate to replace Moore is Sidney Rice, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks, who has been hampered by injuries over his past four seasons with Seattle and Minnesota. Last season, Rice suffered an ACL injury that caused him to be inactive for half of the season. In just eight games, Rice registered 15 receptions for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

When healthy, however, Rice has proven to be a reliable target. Playing all 16 games in 2012, he recorded 50 catches for 748 receiving yards and seven scores. His best season came with the Vikings in 2009 when he finished with 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight TDs. The stats show that when he is not slowed down by injuries, Rice has the ability to be a menace for opposing defenses.

Another avenue the Saints can choose to take is re-signing veteran Robert Meachem. Unlike Rice, Meachem has maintained a healthy status throughout his six-year career, five of which were spent in New Orleans. A caveat to that is his experience with the offensive style of the team. A possible drawback though, is that Meachem has had two lackluster seasons in a row and does not possess the dynamic abilities that Rice does.

Between 2009 and 2011, Meachem seemed to hit his stride, producing three consecutive 40-catch, 600-plus yard seasons. He also hauled in at least five TD grabs during that span. The production is possible for Meachem but Rice, to me, has more of an upside.

If the Saints instead choose to take a chance on a draft pick, there are a lot of sought after WRs they could go after such as Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., assuming they are still available. There are more highly-touted names out there right now, but those players are more likely to be selected earlier on.

Other names on the NFL market that may be available at a discounted price include Jason Avant, Nate Burleson, Davone Bess and Miles Austin. These guys all bring to the table the baggage associated with a history of injuries, which will play a role in the contracts they receive.

Whatever the Saints decide is the most monetarily sound solution to fill the hole at receiver, the one constant going into the season is that their offense will be prolific, just as it has been since the arrival of QB Drew Brees. At the same time, New Orleans needs to find out whether or not Colston can bounce back after an up-and-down season and if Stills can break out and become a sound No. 2 target.