Barring any unexpected moves in the coming months, the New Orleans Saints‘ quarterback room will look slightly different in 2022. Jameis Winston is back as the starter, and Andy Dalton, the three-time Pro Bowler and former Cincinnati Bengals star, is expected to serve as his backup.
Although it’s too early to know how things will look in 2023, it’s nonetheless entirely possible that Dalton’s current presence could create a significant problem next year — and we promise the veteran quarterback isn’t at fault.
The Saints could lose a 2023 draft pick after signing veteran quarterback Andy Dalton
The NFL’s compensatory pick formula is extremely complicated, so we’ll try to keep things as simple as possible. Teams get extra draft picks in the following draft depending on which players they lost via free agency. For example, the Saints would likely have earned a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after veteran left tackle Terron Armstead signed with the Miami Dolphins during the 2022 offseason.
The keyword there is “likely.”
According to Over The Cap’s Nick Korte, the Saints could lose that extra third-round pick after signing Dalton in late March. The problem is the Saints signed the 34-year-old quarterback to a one-year, $3 million deal. Fittingly, $3 million is the exact total that qualifying players (read: the ones who determine if a team receives a compensatory pick or not) must average per year. As Dalton signed a one-year contract, we’ll let you do the math.
As of publication, it was not entirely clear if the Saints would lose the pick by signing Dalton. The NFL will not announce the full 2023 draft order until next year.
New Orleans could have handled the quarterback situation differently rather than risk things by adding Dalton
As we said, the NFL’s compensatory pick formula is extremely complicated. The league might decide that the Chicago Bears’ decision to sign former Saints quarterback Trevor Siemian on a $2 million-per-year deal would balance out the Dalton signing. No one will know for sure until after the 2022 season ends.
Still, with respect to Dalton, the idea that the Saints might lose a top-100 pick for him is ridiculous. The NFL’s strange formula isn’t to blame here, nor is Dalton. The Saints could have handled the backup quarterback situation far differently than by signing a player who was likely going to command $3 million per year.
New Orleans brought Winston back to start after losing out on Deshaun Watson. Fine. Why, though, even risk giving up a meaningful pick for Dalton? The Saints could afford to give up a conditional draft pick for a lesser backup, even if it’s someone like Nick Foles, or even find a far cheaper player to sit behind the Florida State product. Don’t forget the Saints, albeit under previous head coach Sean Payton, used a fourth-round pick on former Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book in the 2021 draft.
Taysom Hill, an all-purpose weapon who has served as the backup quarterback and a spot-starter in recent years, is slated to devote much of the 2022 season at tight end. Why not go into training camp with Book as the No. 2 quarterback, Hill as the No. 3, and try to acquire another backup after the preseason? Another option would have simply been putting Hill on the trade market and seeing if a team was willing to bite, and then re-evaluating the quarterback market.
Again, none of this is a negative indictment on Dalton as a player. At this stage in his career, he’s a fine backup who could easily stick around for another few years. This is about potentially losing a draft pick for a backup quarterback who, in the Saints’ ideal world, will barely play next season.
Then again, the NFL is a strange place. We’ll happily eat our words if or when Dalton takes over the starting job in October and leads the Saints to a Super Bowl title. Who would need a third-round pick then?