Garrett Hartley, the spiky-haired, pill-popping place kicker from Texas is officially back with the Saints after serving his four game suspension for using performance enhancing substances. Other than two missed field goals [Note by Saintsational, Edited 10/07/09 6:48 PM CDT ] during pre-season, Hartley has been perfect in his kicking duties for the team.
But there's a new kid old guy in town and he has been as consistent as ever in his fill-in role. John Carney himself feels confident about his job security. Besides, he was cut by Payton once already and we all know how that turned out. Don't expect coach to make the same mistake again.
The Saints have until Monday to decide what they want to do about their kicking situation. Until then, the big question will be: Who to keep? Let's take a look at the three possible scenarios then offer your own opinion.
Scenario One - Cut Carney
Hartley has distance, accuracy, handles kickoffs and could very well be the future of the Saints kicking game. In fact, other than some possible drug/character issues which now have to be questioned, there is no reason not to just keep Hartley. But would Sean Payton dare cut Carney again? The Saints don't want any bad mojo right now.
Scenario Two - Cut Hartley
Personally, I think this is the least likely situation but there is an old saying, "Dance with the one who brought you." The Saints are undefeated this season and Carney has been a part of that. Garrett might seem unnecessary now with Thomas Morstead's big leg on kickoffs and Carney solid from short range but that still leaves a weakness on long-range field goals. Cutting Hartley also runs the risk of losing him to another team and putting the Saints back in the frustrating position of searching for a franchise kicker.
Scenario Three - Keep Both
The safest and most likely decision. They would both count against the 53-man roster but only one would probably be activated on game day. Give Hartley his chance to take back the starting job. If he runs away with it, everything's great and they could cut Carney at a later date. If there's a total special teams melt down, activate Carney and save the season.
So...which do you think it will it be? No matter what happens, I have only one request: Keep Morstead on kickoffs!