The New Orleans Saints' approach to the offseason is one of a team that believes it's a player or two away from competing for a championship.
Following Sean Payton stepping away from the club earlier this year, the Saints essentially promoted their in-house coaching staff, retained numerous key components, replaced several of those lost, and then traded future assets for an extra first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Despite losing its starting safeties, the Saints defense remains a high-caliber unit. The big questions come on offense, where they essentially re-upped with the same group as last year, minus a massive loss at left tackle with Terron Armstead signing in Miami.
Jameis Winston's re-signing brings some stability to the quarterback position, but he's also coming off an ACL tear, and it wasn't like he was lighting up the scoreboard last year -- fewer than 280 yards passing in each of his starts.
Ahead of the draft, the Saints appear to be counting heavily on Michael Thomas returning to form as a record-setting playmaker at receiver after missing all of last season with a foot injury.
Despite the big questions on offense, receiver Tre'Quan Smith, who the Saints recently re-signed, believes New Orleans can sport a potent offense if healthy.
"If everybody stays healthy, it's going to be one hell of a show, one exciting offense, one explosive offense, and I definitely look forward to it being that this year," Smith recently said, via The Times-Picayune.
Smith pointed to injuries as the main reason the Saints struggled last season.
"I don't think I can recall one game that everybody played together (on offense) last year," he said. "And that's tough being in this business. The No. 1 thing in this business is to win. You make it so much harder on yourself to win when you don't have all of your key players."
In addition to Winston and Thomas returning fully healthy, two other questions loom that will go a long way in determining how good the Saints offense is in 2022. The first is OC Pete Carmichael replacing Payton as the play-caller. The second is what they do with those two first-round picks. Will they use them on an OT to replace Armstead and a WR to add play-making? Or do they look to find their QB of the future?