This article is part of our Team Previews series.
State of the Franchise
2012 was truly a forgettable season for the Saints. Lacking the leadership of coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entire campaign for his role in the infamous pay-for-performance scandal, New Orleans started the season losing its first four games. Though the team managed to claw back to 5-5, an ensuing three-game slide ended any hopes of a fourth straight playoff appearance.
Though the offense took an expected step back from its record-setting performance in 2011, the team still finished third in the NFL in scoring. Despite a healthy 19 interceptions, QB Drew Brees cracked the 5,000-yard barrier for the second straight season and threw for 43 touchdowns. Wideouts Marques Colston and Lance Moore likewise posted huge seasons, each recording more than 1,000 receiving yards, and TE Jimmy Graham continued to show why he's one of the bright young stars in the league, with 85 catches and nine touchdowns.
The Saints will bring back most of their key offensive parts, and though they didn't re-sign veteran WR Devery Henderson and traded RB Chris Ivory to the Jets, there are plenty of options to replace their lost production. WR Joseph Morgan emerged as an impressive deep threat, and last season's third-round pick Nick Toon is healthy after missing all of last season with a foot injury. Additionally, Mark Ingram seems poised for a breakout after finishing last season strong, and fellow running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles should also see plenty of opportunities, particularly in