If Dennis Allen is going to succeed as the new head coach of the New Orleans Saints, he’ll need to find some new cornerstones quickly.
Dennis Allen is walking into a house, but it’s far from turnkey.
The New Orleans Saints finished 9-8 this season, good for second in the NFC South but a win shy of reaching the playoffs. For the second consecutive offseason, massive change is the offseason headliner, with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees retiring following the 2020 campaign, and former head coach Sean Payton stepping away in January.
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On Tuesday, Allen was introduced officially and talked about what he envisions for the franchise under his leadership. Via NFL.com:
“I want to take the lessons that I’ve learned, I want to build upon those lessons, and I want to create my own legacy here with the New Orleans Saints. I know this is a job that you have to do with your own personality, and that’s the way I plan on attacking it.”
Allen, 49, is taking over for Payton, after serving under him for seven years as the Saints’ defensive coordinator. In recent years, New Orleans has had one of the league’s best units, with Pro Bowlers and All-Pros such as corner Marshon Lattimore, linebacker Demario Davis and edge rusher Cameron Jordan helping spearhead the defense.
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Now, with Allen taking the head job, his main concern becomes how New Orleans can move forward on the other side of the ball.
The biggest impediment for Allen is the salary cap situation. New Orleans has a historically bad one, as general manager Mickey Loomis is staring at a $75 million purge just to become cap compliant by the new league year on March 16. This likely means a few releases and a ton of restructures and extensions, but it leaves New Orleans without a viable way to upgrade its talent via free agency.
In the draft, the Saints could be looking to get a long-term answer under center. Last year, the team went with Jameis Winston (now a free agent) and Taysom Hill, but neither figure to help New Orleans reach another Super Bowl. Slated to pick 18th overall, perhaps Loomis swings for a signal-caller in Liberty’s Malik Willis, Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett or Ole Miss’ Matt Corral.
For Allen, nothing meaningful begins in NOLA until the quarterback is secured. Only then can he start the true renovation of his new home.