The strangest Saints offseason ever is almost over

Diana has put her bosom away.  Apollo has lifted his skirt.  The day has been launched! Alack and alay, training camp is less than a week away.

On Tuesday, July 27, the Saints will open training camp and finally close one of the strangest offseasons in recent memory.  Perhaps it will go down as the strangest.

After the 2020 season was weird and not fun because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Saints’ final Super Bowl push with Drew Brees ended with a big wet fart against the Buccaneers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.  Then something inexplicable happened:  a huge swath of the fanbase waited anxiously for Brees to retire.

And then he did.  And then the team cut most of the roster’s middle class in order to get under the salary cap

Free agency came and went, and the Saints’ most exciting signing was a fullback who went all Batman on us and thwarted a car theft.

The draft came and went, and the team used its first pick on a guy no one had ever heard of.

In the dead weeks of the offseason, star cornerback and pending free agent Marshon Lattimore was arrested and warned by an officer, “you’ll shoot your dick off.” Of all the things that happened over the last six months, this is the most likely to live forever in Saints lore.

Defensive tackle David Onyemata, who may be the key to maintaining the Saints’ elite run defense, was suspended six games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

At least the team was able to sign All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk to an extension, locking him in for five more seasons.

To top it all off, there has been zero hype or inside reporting about any of this or, you know, the open quarterback competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, because the pandemic has limited the media’s access to the players.

Please, for the love of all that’s good in Sportsman’s Paradise, let this offseason end.  For the first time in my adult life – in fact for the first time since before the Saints drafted Ricky Williams in 1999 – the team has been put on the backburner in my mind.

I’m writing the same article over and over again because there’s nothing new to talk about.  I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!  I’m running out of movie quotes! 

Because almost nothing good happened this offseason, my brain has been forced to move on to other things.  Even my anticipation for the 2021 campaign has been somewhat tempered by rising COVID numbers and the fear that new restrictions in New Orleans (and elsewhere) will once again ruin our football viewing experience.  Get your shots, people!

But, despite the uncharacteristically boring nature of the 2021 offseason, there actually is reason to be excited for training camp.  We will finally see glimpses of the QB1 battle.  The access likely won’t be the same as in a normal year, but we will finally get to see what Winston can do.

I left Taysom out of that statement because many – including myself – feel as though we’ve seen a large enough sample size to know what he’s capable of.  That’s not to say he can’t or won’t win the job, but Winston represents the great unknown.  He represents hope, and with hope comes excitement.

Don’t you want to be excited about football again?

One of the many takeaways of Brees’ tenure was that the team doesn’t need an all-star cast of receiving options to be an effective offense.  QB play can elevate supporting players, and Winston has the potential to do just that. 

Because in order to overcome all of the sad things I listed above, the Saints need someone who will not only allow Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara live up to their normal standards of excellence, but someone who will also get the most out of Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith, Adam Trautman and the rest of the offense; someone whose success on offense will help the defense stay off the field and play with a lead.

We’re less than a week away from finding out if that’s actually going to happen.  Until then, the possibility exists in our minds and there is nothing more powerful than the human imagination.

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