The last time an offseason was this critical, this important, Sean Payton and Drew Brees got lost driving around New Orleans.
The two didn't know the city then and were trying to find their way, as coach and quarterback, as leaders of an organization, and quite literally, through a new town. They figured it out and ended up drawing maps for others to follow.
Those now need to be updated.
If Brees retires as expected in the coming weeks, the Saints need to figure out what they're going to do, how they're going to do it, and who will be leading the team. This roster is still good enough to keep many pieces together and make another run at the playoffs with someone else at quarterback. They've gone 8-1 with backup quarterbacks the last two seasons.
But can they win a Super Bowl with someone else? That depends on how much of the roster can stay together and how much the Saints want to keep manipulating the cap in future seasons. If the championship hopes are slim there is merit to dropping older players and going through a hard reset.
All of it starts at quarterback. The only player New Orleans currently has under contract for next season is Taysom Hill, who looked decent during his starts this season, but hardly good enough to close the door on the possibility of someone coming in and taking the job. The Saints liked the things Jameis Winston did in practice and were already high on him coming out of training camp. Word is, they'd like to bring Winston back and have him compete.
The cost, like anything, is going to depend on the salary cap situation. As you have heard, the team has to clear somewhere around $90-$95 million to become compliant with the salary cap. There are multiple ways to go about this, but it isn't as scary as it looks. Here is an updated crack at getting to a $180 million salary with the idea of staying as competitive as possible in mind.