The New Orleans Saints made 37 personnel moves over the last two days to reduce their roster to the 53-man minimum to begin the NFL season. While we can expect more waiver wire transactions and movements over the next few days, the nucleus of the 2017 New Orleans Saints is now in place.
One of the moves that had fans talking the most was the release of 28-year-old "rookie" linebacker, Adam Bighill. Bighill, a 4-time All-Star for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League from 2011-2016, had been signed to a reserve/future contract by the Saints in early January.
Considered undersized for a linebacker, the 5-foot-10, 230-pound Bighill had not been selected by any NFL team in the 2011 draft, prompting his move to the CFL. His play during the team's spring mini-camp and OTAs prompted a swelling level of excitement for the underdog with a non-stop motor.
Bighill's play with each preseason game increased the fan's level of excitement, as he showed not only good sideline to sideline ability, but solid coverage skills as well. His 20 total tackles during preseason ranked among team leaders, and he added an interception and QB sack, while showing a penchant for always being around the ball. His play during New Orleans' final preseason game against the Ravens had many convinced that Bighill had earned a spot on the Saints opening day roster.
News of Bighill first broke Saturday afternoon when Adam's father Andy revealed that the Saints would be releasing him, making him eligible to be signed by any other team. Bighill will be eligible to re-sign with the Saints for either the practice squad or active roster if no other team claims him by Sunday afternoon.
The move came as a surprise to some, who expected the Saints to instead part ways with 2015 1st round pick Stephone Anthony. Anthony, who had not played in the team's last three preseason games, has been reportedly nursing an ankle injury. This amid questions of his ability to diagnose opposing offenses after leading the Saints in tackles as a rookie.
The Saints currently have six linebackers on their roster including Anthony. Free agent signees A.J. Klein and Manti Te'o have teamed with rookie Alex Anzalone and 2016 leading tackler Craig Robertson to give New Orleans the look of an athletic and aggressive unit that they've lacked in recent seasons. Nate Stupar, injured himself in the team's 3rd preseason game, adds versatility and a special teams presence.
Given the uncertainty surrounding Anthony's availability, the Saints may elect to bring back Bighill, or perhaps recently released veteran Michael Mauti, provided neither signs with another team. The New Orleans Saints are likely far from finished in personnel movement before the season opener.
Given his level of play this preseason, Adam Bighill's dream of playing in the NFL, whether for the Saints or someone else, seems to have hit only a minor bump in the road.
Did Adam Bighill do enough to deserve a spot on the Saints?
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