Saints’ All-Pro Playmaker Makes Most Underrated List

Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints may not have the type of team that can contend for a spot in the Super Bowl this coming season, but they should have a good shot at making the playoffs.

They have a pretty good quarterback in veteran Derek Carr (a four-time Pro Bowler), a solid dual-threat running back in Alvin Kamara and a developing stud at wide receiver in Chris Olave. They also added defensive end Chase Young—a former Pro Bowler and the 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year—in free agency.

One player who may get overlooked when people scan the Saints’ roster is wide receiver Rashid Shaheed.

Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports pointed out how good Shaheed is when naming him one of the most underappreciated and undervalued players in the NFL.

“Another year Shaheed should be well known around the league for his big-play ability,” wrote Kerr. “Shaheed is third in the NFL in yards per reception (16.3) over the last two seasons, while also leading the league in yards per target (11.1) during that stretch.

“An All-Pro in 2023, Shaheed tied for the NFL lead in punt-return touchdowns (1) and was 10th in all-purpose yards (1,479). He was also third in kick and punt return yards (723) and third in punt-return average (13.6).

“The Saints have a big-play threat in Shaheed, who can score a touchdown every time he touches the ball. He only makes $985,000 this season too.”

Rashid Shaheed is a versatile playmaker

Shaheed’s receiving stats in 2023 (46 catches, 719 yards and five touchdowns) didn’t exactly stand out. But his efficiency, as Kerr specified, is definitely up there, and his versatility as both a wide receiver and kick/punt returner increases his overall value.

He uses his speed (he reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in just 4.3 seconds) to his advantage, and he does a good job of gaining separation from the nearest defensive back in order to make deep receptions.

Shaheed was one of just eight players in 2023 to score a touchdown on a punt return, and the new overhaul in the league’s kickoff rules should help him build on his 384 kick return yards from last season.

At age 25 and entering just his third NFL season, Shaheed still has plenty of room for improvement. He had over 200 more receiving yards in 2023 than he did as a rookie in 2022, and he was targeted on 75 passes in 2023 compared to just 34 in 2022.

The Saints’ roster may not be overpowering, but they will have a real shot at finishing first in the NFC South and making the playoffs for the first time since 2020, which was Drew Brees’ final season.

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