When the Falcons signed Devin Hester yesterday it reminded me of how big of a weakness the return game has been for the Saints in the last two years. Darren Sproles, now traded away, had regressed significantly in that department. He was replaced almost entirely by Travaris Cadet on kickoffs and the regression was then felt even more acutely. While Sproles continued to man the punt return role, he did so less impressively than in years past. Boosting the return game would be a nice area of concentration during the draft. With Sproles gone and his primary punt return backup Lance Moore gone too, the only guys that really seem like potential fits are Cadet (who is already the kickoff returner) and Joe Morgan (who is coming off an ACL tear and missed all of 2013). Pierre Thomas is another guy that's had some reps at kick returner but that doesn't seem like a long term solution (or even a short one). So adding a speedster with game breaking ability and at least decent ball security would be nice and potentially critical part of the roster revamping process. Besides that the Saints are of course very secure and stable at both long snapper and punter. Justin Drescher and Thomas Morstead do their duties very well and enjoy great job security. Shayne Graham is the kicker for now, but he should expect competition.
Special teamers currently under contract: Shayne Graham (K), Thomas Morstead (P), Justin Drescher (LS), Derek Dimke (K)
Free Agents: Garrett Hartley (released mid season)
Dimke shouldn't be much of a threat to Graham but I expect the Saints to target Cairo Santos of Tulane if he makes it through the draft unselected. If not Santos, I still think a young live leg will be brought in to test Graham. Graham seems to be very reliable and accurate from inside 40, but once you stretch his range past 45 it starts to get dicey as we witnessed in the Seattle game. Beyond that again I'd like to see the Saints add a player that has the explosiveness to be a factor in the return game. Cadet has yet to prove he's that guy.
As far as gunners and kick coverage, the Saints have some young talent that has shown promise. Rod Sweeting and Kevin Reddick, though undrafted, both made the team thanks to some special teams ability. Reddick in particular was solid. The Saints look like they will lose Will Herring, another solid special teamer that was the captain in 2013. Herring signed with the Cowboys briefly before the deal was annuled, but he's apparently visited them again since. Beyond that veterans Trevin Wade, Ramon Humber, Keyunta Dawson and Rafael Bush have all had their moments on that unit. I envision Humber or Morstead possibly nabbing the C if Herring doesn't return, but the Saints will need to get more youthful and capable talent to make sure the coverage units stay solid. Having an elite punter and kickoff man in Morstead does help with that immensely.