The Saints are playing better in a few key areas than they did a year ago, but they still need to keep their defense fresh to be able to play meaningful football.
The Saints defense is one of the best in football.
Its defense has played at least 24 minutes of action in four of the last five seasons.
Its best defensive player is linebacker Junior Galette, who is now a free agent after missing the entire 2015 season due to a knee injury.
Its a strong defense that ranks fourth in points allowed per game.
Its one of just two defenses in the NFL with a sack rate of more than 20 percent.
The defense ranks second in sacks per game (20.5), third in interceptions (9.7) and fourth in pressures (8.7).
It ranks first in forced fumbles (2.4) and fifth in quarterback hits (1.3).
And while the Saints are one of four teams in the league that rank in the top-five in quarterback rating, they are not among the top five in sacks allowed per pass attempt.
That being said, the Saints have a lot of holes on their defense.
Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who played in eight games last year, is no longer with the team after suffering a season-ending injury in the playoffs.
And defensive end Cameron Jordan was not a part of the defense last season after signing a five-year, $42 million deal.
The team also lost two starters in the secondary, cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Kenny Vaccaro.
The defensive line is the deepest in the entire league.
The Saints drafted a defensive tackle in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but the team could not develop a reliable starter at that position.
There are a number of young players that have been on the roster this offseason.
Defensive end Sheldon Rankins, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards, cornerback Marcus Williams and safety Rafael Bush have all been with the Saints this offseason but have yet to start an NFL game.
Lattimore is the team’s most dynamic defensive end and was a sixth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
He was a two-time Pro Bowler, earning his first Pro Bowl berth in 2017.
But he was injured for most of last season and did not play a single game.
He will be a free-agent signing this offseason after signing with the Jaguars.
Williams was a third-round draft pick in 2018.
He played in six games last season before missing the final three weeks with an ankle injury.
He missed all of last year with a knee problem and will be eligible to return to the field this season.
Bush has been a mainstay on the defensive line, but has been limited by injuries throughout his career.
He signed a fiveyear, a $41 million deal with the Eagles last offseason and played in nine games last summer before missing all of this year with an Achilles injury.
He missed the entire 2017 season with a season ending knee injury, but he will be able play again this year after the Eagles released him.
Williams also had a torn Achilles tendon in 2016 that limited him to just 10 games last fall.
He is eligible to sign with the Browns this offseason and could have a strong season.
Locks down at linebacker The Saints have the third-best defensive line in the NFC, but linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha is now free agent.
Kikaha started all 16 games in 2016 and had 14 tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbling and one fumble recovery.
He had a career-high seven pass breakups last season.
He is one step away from being a free safety and a potential Hall of Famer.
He has already earned his spot as the NFL’s second-most productive linebacker, and he will help the Saints win in the trenches.
Logan Ryan, cornerback The Saints signed Logan Ryan to a three-year contract extension this offseason, but it appears the team will not be bringing him back.
Ryan signed a one-year deal worth $2.1 million in January, and the Saints decided to cut him after just one season.
He spent much of last seasons on injured reserve with a concussion.
The second-round selection of the Titans in 2017, Ryan is expected to compete for a starting spot at cornerback.
The first-round prospect has been one of New Orleans’ most productive corners, and that has paid off in his second season.
Ryan recorded eight interceptions, a forced fumble and three passes defended.
Ryan has spent his entire career with the Titans, and they signed him to a four-year extension in 2018 worth $18.5 million.
He started the last two seasons at cornerback before being placed on injured reserved with a torn pectoral muscle in 2017 that kept him out of the first two games of the season.
But Ryan played well in the preseason, and was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week in his third season.
Ryan was the only cornerback the Saints signed last offseason to a contract extension, and his signing was