We continue a series that will likely span the length of the entire New Orleans Saints offseason where we look a key questions the Saints will face at various points of the year - the 2017 NFL Draft, free agency, and the 2017 regular season. We turn to a issue of concern for Saints fans and the organization: what Saints Cornerbacks on the roster can stay healthy for a full season?
Before the start of the 2016 regular season, the Saints were looking to find contributors to the secondary out of a group including Keenan Lewis, Delvin Breaux, P.J. Williams, Damian Swann, and Ken Crawley. Then Lewis was cut due to never fully recovering from injuries. Then the rest of the Cornerback group fell like dominos to various injuries.
Ken Crawley missed the final game of the 2016 regular season after dislocating his kneecap during practice. Crawley started five games (playing in 15 games total) for the Saints at Cornerback, forcing one fumble and finishing with 40 tackles after signing a one-year deal to come to New Orleans.
Damian Swann was placed on Injured Reserve at the end of August 2016. After battling numerous concussions during his rookie campaign in 2015, Swann missed the majority of the 2016 season, playing in only seven games, starting two. Swann finished his short year with four passes defended and 20 tackles, but no forced turnovers.
Speaking of concussions, P.J. Williams suffered “one of the more severe” concussions New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton has ever seen. Williams was placed on IR only two games into the season.
Delvin Breaux legitimately and literally broke his neck playing football in 2005. After making a remarkable comeback to professional football, Breaux has become a standout Cornerback in New Orleans. Unfortunately, he dealt with his own string of injuries in 2016, breaking his leg in Week 1 and injuring his shoulder later in the season also placing him on Injured Reserve.
That’s four Cornerbacks on the Saints roster who all missed varying amounts of time due to injury and eventually were placed on Injured Reserve. While professional football is by no means a safe game, and injuries are bound to happen, the rash of injuries to the Saints secondary felt almost like a curse in 2016.
Breaux, Williams, Swann and Crawley (along with De’Vante Harris) are all under contract for 2017. The question will be, though: how much time will each be able to see on the field?