Heading into training camp many analysts have the Saints’ roster ranked as one of, if not the best in the league.
While this is nothing to complain about, some tough decisions loom for Sean Payton and company with players who are on the bubble, that are arguably good enough to start, or at a minimum find roles on different teams.
Here are five possible players who could be cut and become contributors for another team:
An unrestricted free agent this past offseason, the team resigned Williams to a one-year contract after his rookie deal expired. Starting at nickel cornerback for most of the past two seasons, Williams now faces the most competition he has since he was drafted.
Penciled in as the starter this year is returning veteran Patrick Robinson. Aside from the vet, rookie nickel/safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson who was taken in the 4th round of this year’s draft will likely challenge for second team snaps at the position.
Williams’ experience at playing both the slot and on the boundaries will add interest from other teams. If he can’t land a spot on this squad, a cornerback needy team could pick him up for depth or even to start if needed.
Hampton is a 6th round rookie safety out of Rutgers whose selection came as a surprise—not for a lack of talent, but rather how deep the safety position on the team already was. The team should be comfortable with the starters (Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams) and behind them you have Chris Banjo and J.T. Gray, who are both special team contributors. The versatility Gardener-Johnson offers also makes Hampton’s chances to make the 53-man roster even slimmer.
But even with the odds stacked against him here, Hampton could be a good pickup for a team looking to develop a safety that displayed solid traits while in college.
Any non-rookie wide receiver not named Michael Thomas
The main two receivers who come to mind here are Cameron Meredith and Rishard Matthews. Both have shown that they are capable of producing week to week in the league, but injuries slowed down their career to this point. If the team decides they like one or two of their younger options and cut either of these players, a team that suffers an injury at the position shouldn’t hesitate long to reach out to them.
On the younger side you have Keith Kirkwood and Austin Carr. While neither have shown the ceiling of the two mentioned above, their youth plus ability to be effective in the running game as blockers could appeal to a team that has a roster spot to fill.
For so many seasons, linebacker was always a weak spot on this defense. But after signing Demario Davis last offseason and the emergence of Alex Anzalone, the position become a strength of the team.
Last season Klein and Anzalone split time on the field, as the defense typically deployed only two linebackers at a time. Entering his third season, Anzalone could start to siphon more snaps from Klein, making his roster spot expendable. On top of that, the team has a handful of returning players, a 7th round draft pick and a couple of UDFA rookies who could be quality depth behind the starters.
A trade scenario is still possible for Klein, but if he were to get cut outright he could become a sought after player this late into the offseason and would open up around $4.6 million in cap space.
Griffin may come as a surprise on this list, but he has shown enough in his limited playing time to warrant a spot on a roster. The top two spots on the depth chart are locked up with the addition of Jared Cook and returning number two tight end Josh Hill, but if the team only rolls with three players here, Griffin will face competition from 7th round draft pick Alize Mack and third year player Dan Arnold.
Griffin is an excellent blocker with the ability to be an occasional receiving threat. A team that is weak at the position, such as the New England Patriots or Houston Texans could use his services.