Top 10 New Orleans Saints in NFL History
They had to go through many seasons of losing before reaching success. Today, I rank the top 10 New Orleans Saints of all time.
10. Vaughn Johnson
He came into the league with a chip on his shoulder.
After spending time in the USFL, Vaughn Johnson joined the Saints in 1986. Of the four starting linebackers, he fit the part the most. He became known for his hard tackling and was a fixture at inside linebacker for the "Dome Patrol." In eight seasons in New Orleans, he played in 128 games and recorded 12 sacks and four interceptions in his career.
Johnson spent his final season in Philadelphia before retiring in 1994. He was a four time pro bowler and a member of one of the greatest linebacker corps in league history.
9. Joe Horn
"Hollywood" was one of the most productive receivers in franchise history.
After spending time with Kansas City, Joe Horn signed with New Orleans in 2000 and made an instant impact. He quickly proved himself to be a premiere NFL receiver. He is also the Saints' all time leader in 100 yard receiving games with 27. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Horn was noted for his support for the people of New Orleans and the Gulf region. As a leader of the Saints, he served as a public face of the team in many community events in recent months. He was cut by the team after 2006 when he refused to take a pay cut.
Horn spent his final season in Atlanta before retiring after 2007. He was a four time pro bowler and is the Saints all time leading receiver.
8. Morten Anderson
"The Great Dane" is one of the greatest kickers in league history.
A fourth round pick in 1982, Mortem Anderson's career got off to a rocky start. On his first kickoff to start the strike-shortened 1982 season, Andersen twisted his ankle and missed eight weeks of the season. Despite the early setback, he soon emerged as one of the strongest and most reliable placekickers in the NFL. Andersen's proficiency with field goal kicking earned him the nickname "Mr. Automatic." Following the 1994 season, he was released by the Saints for salary cap purposes and because his accuracy had started to decline.
Anderson spent with four other franchises before retiring after 2007. He was a seven time pro bowler, six time All-Pro, and is the NFL's all time leading scorer.
7. Deuce McAllister
He is the most productive running back in franchise history.
A first round pick in 2001, Deuce McAllister was the Saints offense for many years. Even though McAllister is the all-time leader in rushing yards and touchdowns for the Saints, it seems like he never receives the credit he deserves. He put up four 1,000 yard plus rushing seasons in five years, one of which came after a torn anterior cruciate ligament. While injuries did ultimately shorten McAllister's career, he was so respected in the Saints' organization that they re-signed him during the 2009 playoffs as an honorary captain. Even though McAllister didn't play a snap, and was retiring after the playoffs, the Saints carried him on their roster when they defeated the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, and made sure he received a championship ring. A fitting tribute to one of the franchise's most underrated stars.
6. Pat Swilling
He was the quickest member of the "Dome Patrol."
A third round pick in 1986, Pat Swilling was brought in to be a complement to Rickey Jackson. In 1991, he had 17 sacks and was named NFL defensive player of the year. In 1992, Vaughan Johnson, Sam Mills, Jackson, and Swilling became the only linebacker corps in history to make the Pro Bowl in the same season as the Saints led the league in quarterback sacks. Despite its tenacious defense, the team lost in the first round each time it made the playoffs. In his career, he recorded 107.5 sacks and six interceptions.
Swilling spent his final seasons in Detroit and Oakland before retiring in 1998. He was a five time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, and the 1991 defensive player of the year.
5. Sam Mills
The "Field Mouse" was one of the smallest linebackers in league history.
After spending time in the USFL, Sam Mills signed with New Orleans in 1986. He was the leader and the smartest of the linebackers in the "Dome Patrol." An ingenious student of the game, Mills often correctly called out the plays the offense ran throughout the game. He was the anchor of the defense and Saints head coach Jim Mora called him the greatest player he ever coached.
Mills spent his final seasons in Carolina before retiring after 1997. He was a five time pro bowler, four time All-Pro, and his number #51 has been retired by both New Orleans and Carolina.
4. Willie Roaf
"Nasty" was one of the best blindside tackles in league history.
A first round pick in 1993, Willie Roaf quickly made an impact on the offensive line. During his rookie year, he started all 16 games at right tackle and did not miss an offensive snap during his first season and earned All-Rookie honors. The following year he was switched to left tackle and performed at a level that earned him more national accolades. Roaf played nine seasons in New Orleans where he started 131 regular season games. He also started two playoff games including the franchise’s first- ever postseason win.
Road spent his final seasons in Kansas City before retiring after 2005. He was an 11 time pro bowler, nine time All-Pro, and a member of the 90's and 2000's all decade teams. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
3. Archie Manning
He was the first great player in franchise history.
A first round pick in 1971, Archie Manning was the New Orleans offense for a long time. He was usually one of the few marquee players on a dreadful team. During his tenure in New Orleans, the Saints had nine losing seasons. They only managed to get to .500 once which was also the only season they finished higher than third in their division. Nevertheless, he was well respected by NFL peers. In 1972, Manning led the league in pass attempts and completions and led the NFC in passing yards. He ended his 13 year career having completed 2,011 of 3,642 passes for 23,911 yards and 125 touchdowns.
Manning spent his final seasons in Houston and Minnesota before retiring in 1984. He was a two time pro bowler and the 1978 NFC offensive player of the year.
2. Rickey Jackson
His intensity brought life into the New Orleans linebacker corps
A second round pick in 1981, Rickey Jackson made an immediate impact on the team. He was one of the key players that fueled the New Orleans Saints transition from perennial losers into contenders in the late 80's. As a rookie, he led the team with a franchise rookie record eight sacks and was also the Saints leading tackler. In 1983 he established himself as an elite pass rusher in the NFL when he recorded 12 sacks. That year marked the first of six double-digit sack totals in his career. He finished his career with 136 sacks and eight interceptions.
Jackson spent his final seasons in San Francisco before retiring in 1995. He was a six time pro bowler and All-Pro, Super Bowl champion, and the Saints all time leader in sacks. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
1. Drew Brees
He quickly established as the most productive player in team history.
After spending time in San Diego, Drew Brees signed with New Orleans in 2006. In his first season with the team, he threw a league leading 4,418 passing yards, finished third in the league with 26 touchdown passes and a 96.2 passer rating. In 2008, he became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. In 2009, Brees tied a Super Bowl record with 32 pass completions as he was named the games MVP in their Super Bowl XLIV victory. He has since continued to rewrite the record book and holds major passing records including highest single season completion percentage, fastest quarterback to reach 50,000 passing yards, and most 5,000 yard passing seasons among others.
In his eight seasons in New Orleans, he has been a seven time pro bowler, five time All-Pro, four time passing yards leader, Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, and holds every major New Orleans passing record.