The 2018 NFL Draft is now only 5 more days away for the New Orleans Saints, and yesterday the wide receiver position became an even more likely draft target for the organization after it was announced that 4th year undrafted veteran agent wide receiver Willie Snead had signed a two-year offer sheet, as first reported by ESPN "Insider" Adam Schefter.
The offer is worth $7 million with $3.4 million in incentives and includes a $2 million signing bonus, according to a source. The Saints have five days to match the offer sheet to Snead, who is a restricted free agent.
Snead, 25, was one of the most underrated slot receivers in the NFL for the Saints in back-to-back seasons (2015 and 2016), totaling 141 catches for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns. Additionally, he had served as QB Drew Brees' "go-to guy" when the Saints needed to convert a critical 3rd Down situation.
But he had only eight catches for 98 total yards last year because of limited playing time, which stemmed from a three-game DUI suspension to start the year and an early-season hamstring injury.
New Orleans, which had already just signed another restricted free agent wide receiver when the Chicago Bears declined to match the offer that the Saints made for undrafted veteran Cam Meredith last week, is expected to decline the opportunity to match the offer sheet given to Snead by Baltimore.
Snead's expected departure would currently still leave the Saints with a total of 10 WR's on their present-day roster heading into next week's Draft: starters Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn, Jr., Meredith, #4 WR Brandon Coleman (who the team also just re-signed to a new deal a few days ago), veteran TommyLee Lewis, and practice squad / undrafted veterans Austin Carr, Travin Dural, Josh Huff, Paul Turner, and Dan Arnold.
So....what will the Saints do about the need to potentially "replace" Snead?
One option would obviously be to allow the younger players from the practice squad such as Carr and Dural to compete against each other in OTA's and Training Camp; to see if any one of those players listed is able to emerge from the brutally relentless South Louisiana summer-time heat and humidity, to possibly become an eventual starter someday.
The more logical option at this point would be to target the position next weekend on Day 2 or Day 3 of the Draft, which would be next Friday and Saturday in Dallas.
Keep in mind: the Saints Scouting Department has invested valuable time over the course of the past several weeks, in evaluating both early round and Day 2 / 3 wide receiver prospects, since they weren't certain going into the current off-season process if they'd be able to sign one in Free Agency.
However, the signings of both Meredith and Coleman within the past week, seemingly have decreased the need for New Orleans to select another WR with one of their 8 total draft picks next weekend.
But given the amount of time they've already devoted to player evaluations at the position — coupled with Saints head coach Sean Payton's notable love for adding more "weapons" to his offensive arsenal — it probably means that targeting WR will remain a viable option on their Draft Board.
We're not going to "re-hash" all of the previous articles written about the WR prospects that will be on the Saints Draft Board, but there will be a wide variety of names mentioned as potential picks, especially on Day 3 (Rounds 4 thru 7).
You can even click HERE to read the article in which we covered some of those likely mid-to-late round targets.
As of right now, the only thing that seems pretty certain is that they won't be taking one in the 1st Round at #27 overall. Sure, they could still take one at #27 anyway if that player actually is the highest-rated player on their board at that very moment, but it would seem unlikely at this point.
Even further complicating matters is that the Saints currently don't own a 2nd Round pick, which they gave up to the San Francisco 49ers in last year's 2017 NFL Draft, to select eventual 2017 NFL Rookie of the Year-award winner Alvin Kamara.
The 2nd Round could actually be where the "true value" of this year's WR class is; and with names such as Anthony Miller of Memphis and Dante Pettis of Washington rapidly moving up many Draft Boards as potential "superstars" at the WR position once they reach the next level, you shouldn't be surprised at all if the Saints somehow manage to trade their way right back into it.
But Day 3 next Saturday — exactly one week from now — would seem to be the most likely spot where the Saints would choose to address the position, since as of this moment they will pick a total of 6 times that day.
That's where a name such as Penn State WR DaeSean Hamilton could come into play for New Orleans, who ironically has drawn some comparisons to Snead himself.
For New Orleans. it will simply come down to whether or not they feel it's a position that still needs to be addressed, or if they'd simply just rather take a chance on a player that they already have "in-house" instead, such as Carr or Dural.