One of this season’s recurring criticisms of the Saints offense is the lack of an proven red zone threat following the departure of Jimmy Graham in the off-season. Wide receiver Brandon Coleman and tight end Josh Hill both have the kind of size needed to fill the role, but both are young and still a bit rough around the edges. Veteran receiver Marques Colston has both the size and experience but at 32 years old is nearing the end of his road in the NFL and is a band-aid at best. The Saints are in need of someone with the size, the skill and the youth to be an effective threat for the foreseeable future. That someone may very well be buried in the Arizona desert at this moment.

Third-year tight end Joseph Fauria signed with the Arizona Cardinals on the opening day of the season as depth in a banged up tight end group. He was released the day before the team’s week 2 match up since their other tight ends were getting healthy. Since then he has been buried on the Cardinals’ practice squad wasting away.

Fauria joined the the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent following the 2013 NFL draft. As a rookie, he quickly emerged as a formidable red zone threat with seven touchdowns on only eighteen receptions. He also gained attention for his highly creative touchdown celebrations. Fauria’s sophomore season got off to a promising start before injuring his ankle at home one evening prior to their week 4 game against the Jets. He was able to return for another four games later in the season until he reaggravated the injury and ended up on injured reserved following week 14. He finished the season with six receptions and one touchdown. Fauria’s time in Detroit came to an end less than a week before the 2015 season opened following a trade by the Lions to acquire tight end Tim Wright from the Buccaneers.

At 6’7 and 267 lbs, Fauria is nearly identical in size to Graham making him an easy-to-find target both across the middle of the field and in the end zone. Although he only played football in college, he was a three-sport athlete in high school including basketball. Fauria is also the nephew of thirteen year veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion tight end Christian Fauria.

The Saints are greatly in need of reliable red zone targets. Options with a build like Fauria or Graham don’t exactly grow on trees. The options become even fewer when looking for someone that can get 20 plus yards on one of every five receptions and a touchdown on one of every three. Players like these aren’t just left laying around. At this point in the season, teams have to dig for them. If the Saints want to fix their red zone issues, they need to start digging in Arizona. Red Zone Answer For Saints Buried In Arizona Desert