The nature of roster cuts means you aren’t looking for all-star contributors. Teams will be trawling through each other’s castoffs trying to find a mismatched piece to call a gem. The Saints have done just that in the recent past, notably claiming pass rusher Obum Gwacham from the Seattle Seahawks and linebacker Michael Mauti from the Minnesota Vikings. Neither of those guys are locks to make the opening-day roster, by the way. So keep your expectations tempered and take a look at some guys who might hit the waiver wire after Satruday’s deadline (4:00 PM EST).
1. DE David Bass, Seattle Seahawks
It’s more likely than not that David Bass will make the Seahawks’ roster, especially in light of rookie lineman’s Malik McDowell’s off-field injury that may keep him out all year. But in case the Seahawks can’t find a spot for him, the Saints could stand to gain from the versatile pass rusher’s availability. The fifth-year pro has been a revelation in the preseason, seeming to always be the right guy in the right spot at the right time. He’s consistently harassed quarterbacks, bagging a pair of sacks and forcing a couple of incompletion passes on last-second hits. He was even the lucky guy on the spot for a fumble recovery. He’s just 26-years old, and the 6-foot-4, 256-pounder looks like he has a lot to give.
2. WR Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis Colts
Phillip Dorsett played bigger than his size to get this underthrow. Stuff like this doesn't show always sho... https://t.co/4Lasw7yEgr— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 6, 2015
The Indianapolis Colts sniped the Saints when they picked Miami Hurricanes receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, leading the Saints to select Stephone Anthony out of the Clemson Tigers program instead. Neither player has worked out for their team since, with both missing time to injury and not being as good as other guys at their position. Dorsett has had a better summer than Anthony, but the Colts have so many options at receiver now that he may end up a roster cut thanks to his unproductive first two years. If so, the Saints could finally end up with a big-play receiver head coach Sean Payton once coveted.
3. QB Jacoby Brissett, New England Patriots
Look at how effective the play action is on Jacoby Brissett's first career completion pic.twitter.com/tTYdwR0NcA— Henry McKenna (@McKennAnalysis) September 19, 2016
It would be really weird, maybe even really dumb, if the Patriots cut Jacoby Brissett so soon after drafting and spot-starting him, but signs point to that being a possible future. Brissett saw a similar decline in preseason snaps played to other past reserve passers in New England like Kevin O’Connell, Tim Tebow, and Ryan Mallett. If they’re confident in Tom Brady’s ability to defy aging and Jimmy Garoppolo’s future potential, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick could decide they need that roster spot more than a third quarterback. If that’s the case, Brissett would be an upgrade over either Saints reserves Garrett Grayson or Ryan Nassib, neither of whom have impressed this summer.
4. TE Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos
Best Pass of Sunday's Game? THIS ONE, an absolute dime piece by Trevor Siemian to TE Jeff Heuerman in TS's magical 4th quarter.. pic.twitter.com/gA1CpXMlSL— THE FINAL CALL K (@kanard_williams) September 27, 2016
It would be a shock if Jeff Heuerman doesn’t make this Broncos team, but a guy can hope. The former Ohio State Buckeyes standout is a capable blocker and impressive pass-catcher who can make tough receptions down the seam look easy. He’s behind Virgil Green and maybe A.J Derby on the depth chart so may not be considered a roster-lock. With John Phillips on the Saints’ injured reserve list and nobody definitively rising to the top out of Coby Fleener, Josh Hill, and Michael Hoomanwanui, I expect the Saints to take a look at some of the tight ends becoming available this weekend.
5. DE Nate Orchard, Cleveland Browns
I’ve written before about my interest in Nate Orchard as an underrated pass rusher, and a few weeks later that remains the same. He’s competing with Tyrone Holmes for a roster spot (more on him in a few minutes) at the tail of Cleveland’s rotation and is finally looking like the guy who led Utah in sacks in college. But Orchard has had stretches of bad practice tape, and the Browns may look somewhere else to fill this roster spot. If that’s the case, the Saints could do worse than finding a place for Orchard on their practice squad. He may even show enough to get some action on Sundays.
6. TE Will Tye, New York Giants
Will Tye started at tight end last year for the New York Giants, but they’ve done a lot to revamp the unit this offseason through signing Rhett Ellison in free agency and drafting Evan Engram in the first round. Now he’s on the outside looking in and may not make the team. The 25-year old doesn’t offer much as a blocker but he does have reliable hands and showed some run-after-catch skill in the playoffs. The Saints lack top-level options at tight end and should do all they can to enrich that position group.
7. OL T.J. Clemmings, Minnesota Vikings
Yeah, T.J. Clemmings has been a weak link in one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines. I’m not sure how much of it is his fault: he was an athletic but largely-undeveloped right tackle coming out of college who played with uncoordinated violence. He hasn’t gotten the coaching he needed in Minnesota and got moved all over their offensive line, much like Andrus Peat did early on in New Orleans. If they jettison Clemmings after rebuilding the unit this offseason, the 25-year old would be worth a look over guys like Bryce Harris and Khalif Barnes as a reserve right tackle.
8. DE Tyrone Holmes, Cleveland Browns
#91 Tyrone Holmes is a beast. Speed and power on display. pic.twitter.com/2A3i4mt4Ez— Kevin V. Rogers Jr. (@ROGERSLAWLLC) August 14, 2017
Tyrone Holmes was one of my draft crushes from last year out of the Montana Grizzles program, but he got picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had a good preseason before they pulled a typical-Jaguars move and tried to sneak him onto the practice squad, losing Holmes to the almost-as-bad Browns. Now Holmes has again had a good preseason and looks like a sure thing to make their team, but you never know with the Browns. The glut of players waived this Saturday will make it easier for guys like Holmes to slip through the cracks, and the Saints might hope to benefit from the mismanagement that has plagued Cleveland sports.
9. TE Alan Cross, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How bout this blitz pickup from FB Alan Cross on the Bucs touchdown pic.twitter.com/2ezYwluqax— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) October 11, 2016
Remember Austin Johnson? The Saints’ former fullback/halfback/tight end/special teams ace has been competing with Buccaneers second-year pro Alan Cross in training camp, and their battle is reportedly going down to the wire. They’re both versatile blockers and receivers who can provide quality punt coverage, and I could see the Saints poaching whichever guy doesn’t make Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster. For now Cross seems like the underdog, despite getting a lot of looks on different special teams units throughout the preseason.
10. WR Tajae Sharpe, Tennessee Titans
Tajae Sharpe. Real deal. 11 targets Week 1. pic.twitter.com/nNLTBDzvyl— B (@BobbyJK28) September 17, 2016
Tajae Sharpe looked like a long-term fix to lead Tennessee’s receivers room last season, but I don’t know that any team has done more to upgrade that position than the Titans. They drafted Corey Davis highly out of Western Michigan as their new number-one threat, later grabbed Western Kentucky Hilltoppers deep threat Taywan Taylor, added Eric Decker after the New York Jets foolishly released him, and brought in some veterans like Eric Weems to push Harry Douglas for reps. Rishard Matthews remains young quarterback Marcus Mariota’s favorite target, and now Sharpe looks expendable while working to return from late-summer foot surgery.