Saints' QB options for 2023: New Orleans' best shot at franchise passer is in NFL Draft — kind of

Saints' QB options for 2023: New Orleans' best shot at franchise passer is in NFL Draft — kind of

So, who wants to play quarterback for the Saints next season?

Unsurprisingly, replacing Drew Brees hasn’t been a simple or easy task. Since Brees’ retirement following the 2020 season, the team has started Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, Trevor Siemian and Ian Book. 

That’s not exactly a “Who’s who” of passers. 

Unfortunately for the Saints, a solution in 2023 isn’t apparent. They have a lot of cap finagling to do in the offseason, and they have no first-round pick in the NFL Draft. That selection belongs to the Eagles after a pre-draft trade in 2022. 

DRAFT ORDER: Eagles keep winning, thanks to the Saints 

A lot can change between now and next season, but here are New Orleans’ best options as the team enters the twilight of 2022:

Saints’ QB options 2023

The free agents

Unfortunately for the Saints, the salary cap will be an issue in signing or trading for a difference-maker. Their best option is to go with a mid-level veteran or throw some Day 2 or 3 draft capital at a passer.

A number of free agents could be available, including the Saints’ top two QBs this season:

— Could they run it back with Jameis Winston or Andy Dalton? Neither will command a hefty contract in free agency, but neither one has proven to be a difference-maker in the Saints’ offense. As the saying goes, though, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Maybe a second year of Dalton would do him well — he signed just a one-year, $3 million pact with the team last offseason.

MOCK DRAFT: Eagles use bonus top-10 pick on defense

— Other stopgap options, such as Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, could be available at the right price. Both players will likely sign on one-year prove-it deals to rebuild their value, but is New Orleans the right destination?

— Those hoping for players like Lamar Jackson or Daniel Jones need to take a breather. Jones will likely wind back up with the Giants or sign for bigger money elsewhere. Jackson’s future with the Ravens is murky. 

The 2023 NFL Draft 

It’s a long way to April.

The draft will also be a tricky situation for the Saints. They’re without a first-round pick, so they aren’t able to take a quarterback high. The Eagles hold New Orleans’ pick and are slated to pick at No. 6.

DRAFT PROSPECTS: Updated big board of top 70 players overall, position rankings 

That said, the Saints will draft high in the second round, and two intriguing prospects may be available then:

— Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker suffered a season-ending ACL injury late in the year. There’s also the fact that he will turn 25 in January. That’s not ancient, but the combination of age and injury could make him a Day 2 project prospect.

— Kentucky’s Will Levis is a polarizing prospect. He has the tools and skill to make it at the next level, but some have pegged his decision-making as a major issue. Once in the class of C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, his draft stock seems to have taken a hit. Should he fall to the second round, then that would potentially be a sweet spot for New Orleans.