The New Orleans Saints became a perennial playoff team under the direction of head coach Sean Payton and future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.

However, with the longtime Saints quarterback now heading off into the sunset that is retirement, New Orleans must begin preparing for life after Brees.

Making matters worse, the Saints will once again be in direction competition with the surging Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will enter the upcoming 2021-22 campaign as the defending Super Bowl Champions. With the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons both slated to serve as pesky teams themselves this time around, it could be a pretty rough year down in the bayou as the Saints must find a way to succeed in this new era.

Even with that in mind, the Saints and the aforementioned Payton will no doubt be eying the future as well in 2021-22. Because the looming season will almost certainly be a tough one, New Orleans must not only prepare for 2021-22 but also for the years to come as the NFC South franchise must now find a brand new identity. Obviously it will take more than one season to replace Brees both on and off the field, but this team must continue to simultaneously play for the present and future leading up to the 2021-22 season.

Jameis Winston, Saints Quarterback

In the absence of longtime starting quarterback Drew Brees, the time has finally come for fellow signal callers Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to prove themselves. With Hill previously billed as the team's successor to Brees as Winston was ousted out of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers locker room following the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign, this could very well line up as one of the top position battles to keep an eye around the league this offseason.

However, if the Saints are going to justify keeping Hill around for this long and at this price, perhaps it is time to really see what he can do under center. On the other hand, this organization knows what it is getting in Winston, who can boom or bust at just about any moment. It shouldn't be too surprising to see Sean Payton turn to Hill come Week 1 if Winston struggles this offseason.

It is also worth noting that the Saints also drafted former Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book this past spring in addition to signing journeyman signal caller Trevor Siemian for some extra insurance.

Not that either of these two will start in 2021-22, but either can no doubt serve as a formidable back-up as needed should the Saints decide to go with Hill and cut ties with Winston.

Ty Montgomery, Running Back/Wide Receiver

With the likes of Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray and Dwayne Washington all ahead of him on the team's current depth chart former Green Bay Packers and New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery might not have a spot on the New Orleans Saints final roster come 2021-22. Just playing the numbers game here, Montgomery might ultimately find himself as the odd man out as Kamara is a perennial Pro Bowler, Murray as a top third down back in the league and Washington's ability to excel on special teams. Montgomery's saving grace could very well be his ability to catch the football as a wide receiver turned running back, though Kamara has this skill down to a science at this point.

On any other team, Montgomery would probably find a spot due to his pass catching ability but with the pure volume of talent ahead of him on the depth chart, New Orleans probably won't be his landing spot in 2021-22. Montgomery shouldn't have much trouble finding his next NFL franchise, though, as there are surely several teams out there that can use some additional depth in the backfield and firepower on offense.

There is one more scenario in which Montgomery eventually finds his way onto the Saints' Week 1 roster, though. If the team cuts bait with both of its full backs or an extra wide receiver, perhaps Montgomery can squeeze his way into the mix. That would obviously mean that the Saints would be asking a little more than usual of Montgomery, though, who would then need to serve as a true hybrid player splitting time between running back and wide receiver.

It is entirely possible that the Saints simply choose to go with as much versatility as possible behind what should be underwhelming play under center in 2021-22. It certainly wouldn't been the first time for head coach Sean Payton, that is for sure.

Alex Armah, Fullback

There are some teams in the NFL that don't even carry one full back, let alone two, while the New Orleans Saints certainly won't be the outlier here. As it stands today, the Saints employ the full back tandem of Alex Armah and Sutton Smith with the former serving as a NFL veteran and the latter serving as a two-way player that can also play the linebacker position.

Despite the fact that Armah is a legitimate NFL full back, Sutton may ultimately have the edge here as the up-and-comer has the ability to play both ways. Because Sutton can play linebacker in addition to full back, his position could simply go further for a team that also loves to play offensive weapon Taysom Hill all over the field. Of course, Sutton can also play quite well on special teams as well thanks to his ability on defense.

If the Saints ultimately elect to go with versatility of Sutton over the veteran presence of Armah, things could get interesting at the full back position down in New Orleans this offseason. Prior to landing with the Saints, Armah spent the first four seasons as his NFL playing career as a member of the rival Carolina, so it is more than likely that New Orleans is quite familiar with the seasoned full back. Nonetheless, head coach Sean Payton can be unpredictable at times while this could fall right into such a category.