The New Orleans Saints have long been one of the most talented and impressive teams in the NFL, but their season has ended in heartbreak the last two years.
In 2017 it was in the Divisonal Round against the Vikings, when an unlikely last-second touchdown, dubbed the "Minneapolis Miracle", sent them home. Last season they were hosting the NFC Championship game and had a chance to seal the game with a first down. The referees missed an obvious defensive pass interference and the Rams ended up forcing overtime and eventually winning. That no-call was bad enough to force the NFL into a rule change.
After two years of misery the Saints window for success is closing. Star quarterback Drew Brees is now 40, making 2019 potentially his last. Can you take over in franchise mode and guide the Saints to their second Super Bowl triumph?
The Saints enter Madden 20 with a very strong 81 OVR. That puts them behind only the Eagles and Cowboys, and tied with the Rams, Patriots, and Bears.
The Saints' strength is their 85 rated offense, powered by Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas among others. Defensively the Saints are weaker, rated 79 but they too have their own set of stars that can make an impact.
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Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver (93 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar X-Factor
Contract: 6 years/$97.9 million
2019 Cap Hit: $6.13 million
Best Stats: Catching (98), Short Route (95), Catch In Traffic (95), Medium Route (94), Spectacular Catch (94), Acceleration (92), Release (92)
To say Michael Thomas is a monster would be an understatement. A second-round pick in 2016, Thomas has been a 1,000+ yard receiver in every season, reaching career marks in catches (125) and yards (1,405) last season as he made his first First Team All-Pro and earned a monster new contract.
In Madden 20 Thomas' catching (98) is his best asset. He is a strong route runner (95 short, 94 medium, 89 deep) and he has good release (92) and jumping (90) that will help in the redzone.
Drew Brees, Quarterback (92 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar X-Factor
Contract: 1 year/$22.7 million
2019 Cap Hit: $22.7 million
Best Stats: Short Accuracy (99), Awareness (97), Play Action (96), Medium Accuracy (95), Throw Under Pressure (93), Deep Accuracy (90)
Drew Brees was a second-round pick for the San Diego Chargers in 2001. He sat his rookie season and took over in 2002. He started for them for four years before a shoulder injury, along with the Chargers adding Phil Rivers, led to Brees leaving after the 2005 season. He arrived in New Orleans and immediately pushed them up towards the Super Bowl. They triumphed in the 2009 season, claiming the Saints first Lombardi Trophy. Brees in the all-time NFL leader in passing yards and should hit the top in passing touchdowns this year.
In Madden 20 Brees is an assassin in the pocket (99 short, 95 medium, 90 deep). His throw power (85) is no longer ideal, but with his quality on play action (96) and under pressure (93) means he is a superb all-round passer.
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Cameron Jordan, Defensive End (91 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar X-Factor
Contract: 5 years/$78.3 million
2019 Cap Hit: $9.54 million
Best Stats: Awareness (97), Play Recognition (97), Power Moves (92), Block Shed (92), Strength (91), Tackle (89), Pursuit (89)
The Saints drafted Cameron Jordan in the first-round of the 2011 draft and have been well rewarded for their investment. Jordan picked up 12.5 sacks in his 2013 season as he got his first Pro Bowl invitation. Over the last two years Jordan has made the First Team All-Pro once and racked up 25 total sacks and 49 QB hits.
Jordan is a terrifc end in Madden 20. With good strength (91) and elite awareness (97) and play recognition (97) he can sniff out the play and find the ball. He has amazing power moves (92) and his pursuit (89) and tackle (89) combine with his block shed (92) to make him a strong run defender as well as pass rusher.
Marshon Lattimore, Cornerback (87 OVR)
Development Trait: Superstar
Contract: 2 years/$9.08 million
2019 Cap Hit: $4.19 million
Best Stats: Acceleration (94), Speed (93), Jumping (91), Agility (91), Man Coverage (89), Press (86), Zone Coverage (84)
Marshon Lattimore was the 11th overall pick for the Saints in 2017 and made an immediate impact. As a rookie he racked up 5 interceptions and 18 deflections, earning himself a Pro Bowl invite. In 2018 quarterbacks started avoiding him but he still picked off 2 passes and forced 4 fumbles.
Lattimore is a physical athlete in Madden 20. He has good speed (93) and acceleration (94) to underpin his whole game, while his jumping (91) and agility (91) will help him in all situations. He is best in man coverage (89) and good in the press (86) but he can play zone too (84).
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Full Roster & Depth Chart
|Ted Ginn Jr||80||92||83||82||84||86|
|Mario Edwards Jr||70||77||88||69||59||70|
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The Saints roster is full of talented players, especially at key positions.
Drew Brees (99 short accuracy, 96 play action) runs the show on offense with a stellar supporting cast. Alvin Kamara (94 acceleration, 92 juke move) is an exceptional running back who can catch the ball too.
Michael Thomas (98 catching, 95 short route) leads the receiving corps while Ted Ginn Jr (92 speed, 86 deep route) provides a deep option and Tre'Quan Smith (89 speed, 89 jumping) is a nice #3. Tight end Jared Cook (90 acceleration, 89 catching) can do damage on the inside too.
The offensive line is stout, with bookend tackles Terron Armstead (91 pass block, 86 run block) and Ryan Ramczyk (88 pass block, 88 run block) protecting Brees and right guard Larry Warford (90 strength, 82 pass block) is a solid blocker inside.
Defensively the Saints have two stars in defensive end Cameron Jordan (92 power moves, 92 block shed) and cornerback Marshon Lattimore (93 speed, 89 man cover). Around them is a nice defensive line featuring Sheldon Rankins (89 strength, 84 power moves), and Marcus Davenport (88 acceleration, 75 power moves).
The Saints are a bit thin at linebacker, with Demario Davis (90 play recognition, 88 pursuit) the only standout player. The secondary has ok depth, with Patrick Robinson (91 acceleration, 87 zone cover) the #2 corner with Eli Apple (92 speed, 76 man cover) in the slot.
Marcus Williams (90 acceleration, 79 zone cover) and Vonn Bell (90 acceleration, 84 play recognition) make a good safety pairing too.
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The Saints have 54 players on their roster when you start in the preseason and $29.8 million in cap space.
This means that you aren't going to create any extra space when you just cut one player, but you do have the flexibility to add a free agent or make a trade immediately if want to add talent at the start of season 1. However, you should be sure to leave some room, as there are several key players you need to think about re-signing...
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Impending Free Agents
New Orleans start franchise mode with 24 players on the last year of their contracts. This includes star quarterback Drew Brees, but at 40 years old he is likely to retire after season 1, and even if he doesn't he will be very expensive to retain and you'll only get another season out of him. So if you are letting Brees walk who should you be looking to keep?
David Onyemata, Defensive Tackle (78 OVR)
It starts with David Onyemata. The defensive tackle may not stand out as a star player, but having good depth at this position is vital to stopping the run, something that can be tricky in Madden 20. With good strength (89) and power moves (83) Onyemata will be a useful piece of the defense for a while.
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Eli Apple, Cornerback (76 OVR)
4 of the Saints 6 cornerbacks have just 1 year left. Replacing that many corners is very difficult in one year, so you should keep some of them. At 24 years old Eli Apple should be the priority of the position. He has good speed (92) and solid man coverage (76) and at his age still has time to improve.
PJ Williams (90 speed, 71 man coverage) is another you should attempt to hold on to as long as his asking price is reasonable.
Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback (73 OVR)
If you don't get the chance to keep Brees, or don't want to invest a lot of cap space into him for 1 more year then you will need a QB, and Teddy Bridgewater is a good place to start.
His throw power (84) isn't perfect but he is pretty accurate (85 short, 80 medium, 81 deep) and he can move too (86 acceleration, 85 agility). Under Brees in season 1 you won't be near the top of the draft to get a good rookie QB, so developing Bridgewater is an excellent solution to the problem, at least in the short-term.
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The obvious priority when it comes to the Saints roster is finding a successor to Drew Brees.
Teddy Bridgewater can be that guy, but if you don't think he is then it will take serious draft captial to find a new quarterback that you can compete with.
On offense upgrades at center and left guard are needed on the offensive line as these spots are big holes that will hurt your running game.
Another elite threat opposite Michael Thomas would be good, and receivers are fairly easy to draft late this year.
Defensively help at linebacker is a must. The defensive line is flexible enough to run a 3-4 or 4-3 base, but you need off-ball linebackers to help Demario Davis out.
Another corner to play along side Marshon Lattimore would be useful too. Patrick Robinson is 31 so will start to decline and Apple shouldn't be isolated on the outside too often.