Saints Franchise Five: Sean Payton, Drew Brees headline list of all-time greats in New Orleans


Despite not posing a winning season during the franchise’s first 20 years of existence, the New Orleans Saints have produced some of the best players in league history. These players not only helped the Saints rebound from their inauspicious start, they also helped endear the franchise to its passionate fan base while making the Superdome one of the greatest home field advantages in all of professional sports. 

With the help of CBS Sports writer John Breech, we present to you the Saints’ “Franchise Five.” CBSSports.com’s Franchise Five dives into five most impactful people in each NFL‘s team history. Our rules here bind us to pick just one quarterback, three non-quarterback players and one head coach. We also included an honorable mention section for the Saints’ great players that just missed the cut. 

Coach Sean Payton 

The Saints had endured five consecutive losing seasons before Sean Payton came to town in 2006. During his first season in New Orleans, Payton helped lead the Saints to a 10-6 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game. Three years later, Payton — a gifted offensive mind who has helped quarterback Drew Brees become the NFL’s all-time leading passer — guided the Saints to their first-ever Super Bowl, a 31-17 win over Peyton Manning and the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. Trailing 10-6 at halftime, Payton signed off on an onside kick — the earliest-attempted onside kick in Super Bowl history — to start the second half. The Saints recovered the kick and quickly scored the go-ahead touchdown. New Orleans would not trail again while delivering the franchise’s first Lombardi Trophy. 

In 13 seasons, Payton has tallied a 131-77 regular season record and an 8-7 postseason record. He has helped lead the Saints to eight playoff appearances and six NFC South titles. 

QB Drew Brees 

Like Payton, Brees also came to New Orleans in 2006 after starting his career with the Chargers. That season, Brees won his first of seven passing titles while leading the Saints to within a game of the Super Bowl. Three years later, Brees led the NFL in touchdown passes for a second straight year while leading New Orleans to the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl XLIV, Brees won MVP honors after completing 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns. 

A 13-time Pro Bowler and two-time NFL Offensive Player of the Year, Brees has led the NFL in touchdown passes four times and completion percentage six times that includes each of the last three seasons. He is the all-time leader in passing yards (77,416) and touchdown passes (547). 

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LB Rickey Jackson 

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jackson, an outside linebacker for the Saints from 1981-93, was the best player on a New Orleans team that made the playoffs four times in a six-year span from 1987-92. During a seven-year span, Jackson led a talented Saints defense that boasted a top-10 defense six times. New Orleans’ defense led the league in scoring in 1991 and in 1992, as the Saints posted a 23-9 regular-season record during that span. 

Jackson, who led the NFL in forced fumbles four times, recorded 115 of his 128 career sacks as a member of the Saints. A member of the Saints’ Ring of Honor, Jackson left New Orleans after the 1993 season as the franchise’s all-time leader in games played (195). He is still the franchise’s career leader in sacks, solo tackles (1,104), forced fumbles (38), and fumble recoveries (27). 

OT Willie Roaf 

The eighth overall pick in the 1993 draft, Roaf missed just four games during his nine-year career with the Saints. Considered one of the best left tackles in NFL history, Roaf earned seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections (and two consecutive All-Pro nods) from 1994-2000. 

After toiling on losing teams during the first seven seasons, Roaf played a key role on the Saints’ NFC South-winning team in 2000. New Orleans won their first-ever playoff game that winter, as the Saints upset the defending Super Bowl champion Rams in the wild-card round. With Roaf anchoring the Saints’ offensive line, the Saints allowed just two sacks of quarterback Aaron Brooks, who threw four touchdown passes while recording a 115.5 quarterback rating. 

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the NFL’s All-Decade Teams of the 1990s and 2000s, Roaf is also a member of the Saints’ Ring of Honor. 

K Morten Andersen 

The second-leading scorer in NFL history, Andersen was a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro during his 13-years in New Orleans. Andersen, who led the NFL in field goal percentage in 1986, paced the league in field goal attempts and makes in 1987 while helping the Saints clinch their first-ever playoff berth. In 1991, Andersen made the NFL’s longest field goal (60 yards) while helping New Orleans make the playoffs for a second straight year. 

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Andersen was named to the NFL’s 1980s and 1990s All-Decade Team. He is also a member of the Saints’ Ring of Honor. 

Honorable mention

Jahri Evans, a six-time Pro Bowl and four-time All-Pro right guard, helped create clear passing lanes for Brees throughout his 11 seasons with the Saints. Linebacker Sam Mills, a four-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Saints, was also part of New Orleans’ formidable defense during the late 1980s/early ’90s. Running back Deuce McAllister became a fan favorite during his eight-year run in New Orleans, earning conductive Pro Bowl selections while helping the Saints reach the NFC title game in 2006. 

Current Saints Michael Thomas and Cameron Jordan have each carved out their own niches in franchise history while playing significant roles in the team’s three consecutive NFC South division titles. 





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