The final roster cuts for NFL teams are less than a week away. The Saints, and the other 31 clubs will cut their rosters down to 53 players and begin to fill out a 16-spot practice squad which carries six additional spots that can be occupied by veteran players this year.
Now that the majority of training camp has concluded, and as all eyes are on Alvin Kamara’s contract negotiations, it’s time to undergo the practice only slightly less futile than mock drafts: an updated 53-man roster projection.
Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, and Taysom Hill
Previous: Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, and Taysom Hill
No surprises and no changes here. This is cut and dry. Both Jameis and Taysom have had up and down moments in camp, seemingly more ups for Winston, unsurprisingly. Brees is your starter with two intriguing backups and the best QB room in the NFL. Taysom of course continues his swiss-army knife offensive role with less special teams pressence.
Running Backs (4):
Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, and Michael Burton (FB)
Previous: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, and Michael Burton (FB)
Also no changes here. The only big question following the cut down to 80 was whether or not Montgomery could do enough in camp to hold off incumbent Dwayne Washington. He has. And Washington was also placed on the reserve/COVID list which could cost him valuable time with the team ahead of cuts. Above all else though, we hope for his continued health.
Wide Receivers (6):
Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and Bennie Fowler
Previous: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and Bennie Fowler
I still have a hard time making changes here. Lil’Jordan Humphrey just brings more to the team as a blocker and special teams contributor than we’ve heard or seen of guys like Emmanuel Butler and Austin Carr. Marquez Callaway making the roster would make me ecstatic. But Humphrey has a year with the team already and contributes in areas the Saints really like to have a reliable role player.
Bennie Fowler ran the risk of trickling off a bit as a veteran standing out early in camp, but he has continued to impress and make plays. As a reliable special teamer, it’s hard to imagine him not making the roster.
The top four feel like locks. Keeping six receiver isn’t out of the ordinary for the Saints when their primary returner is a wideout.
Tight Ends (3):
Jared Cook, Josh Hill, and Adam Trautman
Previous: Jared Cook, Josh Hill, and Adam Trautman
No, I’m still not convinced Tommy Stevens makes the roster as much as I’d love it for him. His shift over to tight end looked like it might have made his path to the roster more defined, but it’s hard to say if he’s learned the position quickly enough to make the cut. Cook, Hill, and Trautman are a great group at the position.
Offensive Line (9):
Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Cesar Ruiz, Erik McCoy, Ryan Ramczyk, Patrick Omameh, Will Clapp, Nick Easton, Ethan Greenidge, and James Hurst*
Previous: Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Cesar Ruiz, Erik McCoy, Ryan Ramczyk, Calvin Throckmorton, Will Clapp, Nick Easton, Ethan Greenidge, and James Hurst*
James Hurst won’t count against the total for the first four games due to his suspension so the Saints have more time to make a decision on him based on what they see elsewhere or any injuries.
In our first change so far, I swapped UDFA out of Oregon Calvin Throckmorton for Patrick Omameh in this version. Just not much praise coming out of camp for Throck coming into the final week of camp. I’d love to see him make the roster though as a player I believe should have been drafted. But Omameh also bring versatility both inside and out and has experience in the system already. If Throckmorton doesn’t make the roster and clears waivers, he’ll be a fantastic practice squad option and someone I’d imagine would be one of the Saints four protected assets.
The starting five is set, but questions around where Ruiz and McCoy play to start the season continue to swirl. Understandably so as former Michigan center Ruiz has missed a few recent camp practices. Andrus Peat has returned from his broken thumb injury with a week to go before another week of Week One practices.
Defensive Line (9):
Cam Jordan, David Onyemata, Malcom Brown, Marcus Davenport, Sheldon Rankins, Mario Edwards, Jr., Carl Granderson, Trey Hendrickson, and Shy Tuttle
Previous: Cam Jordan, David Onyemata, Malcom Brown, Marcus Davenport, Sheldon Rankins, Margus Hunt, Carl Granderson, Trey Hendrickson, and Shy Tuttle
This is my “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude. The only change here is swapping Mario Edwards, Jr. in to make his return to the black and gold for a second season. Margus Hunt has been intriguing, but it’s hard to find space for him with such a talented and deep defensive line. Edwards has simply made more plays and looked very good so far in camp. In my mind, he’s very close to closing out his spot this week.
The rest are completely expected. This group is part a defensive unit that put up more than 50 sacks in 2019 despite injuries. A majority of that pressure came from the down linemen and they look primed to continue that production. One of the big questions is whether or not former Wyoming edge defender Carl Granderson has done enough with his standout camp to get a larger role as the third defender off the edge, usurping Hendrickson.
Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Kiko Alonso, Zack Baun, Craig Robertson, and Kaden Elliss
Previous: Demario Davis, Alex Anzalone, Kiko Alonso, Nigel Bradham, Zack Baun, and Kaden Elliss
I’m becoming less and less confident that Alonso will be ready to go to start the season. If he isn’t, UDFA Joe Bachie might find his way to the list here.
Now that Nigel Bradham was cut, it seems that Craig Robertson has a clear path to maintain his spot and role as a depth linebacker and special teams captain. It was going to be hard to keep him off this roster anyway, honestly.
Defensive Backs (10):
Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, Ceedy Duce, P.J. Williams, Justin Hardee, Patrick Robinson, Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, J.T. Gray, and D.J. Swearinger
Previous: Marshon Lattimore, Janoris Jenkins, Ceedy Duce, P.J. Williams, Justin Hardee, and Keith Washington, Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins, J.T. Gray, and Saquan Hampton
This one was tough for me even though the majority of it is obvious. The two changes though took some time. Hampton not so much based on the camp that Swearinger has had. In fact, I wouldn’t even go so far as to say Hampton has been particularly bad. It’s just a numbers game at this point and veteran experience matters so heavily this season.
The really tough one for me was swapping out West Virginia UDFA Keith Washington for veteran Patrick Robinson. Robinson has had reports circulating about his great camp for each week of practices so far. I’m personally wary when it comes into buying into that hype. I’d much rather see Washington get a legitimate shot. But that simply may not be the case with the abbreviated offseason. Much like Swearinger, Robinson can be the benefactor of the premium on veteran experience.
Special Teams (3):
Thomas Morstead (Punter), Wil Lutz (Kicker), and Zach Wood (Long Snapper)
Previous: Thomas Morstead (Punter), Wil Lutz (Kicker), and Zach Wood (Long Snapper)
And of course, one of the NFL’s best units undergoes no change. I’m continually intrigued by Blake Gilikin who I still expect to end up on the practice squad considering he both punts and can handle kickoff responsibilities.
Filling out the practice squad is challenging because while there are certainly players from the current group of 80 that make sense, there will be players from other rosters that the team may bring in.
A good time to remember as well that the initial 53-man roster can change ahead of Week One and can most certainly change afterwards, allowing the team to sign players without guaranteeing their salary. So even when the 4PM Eastern deadline passes on Saturday, more changes could be on the way.
Keep it locked here this weekend as we track cuts, practice squad signings, any related transactions, and recap the initial 53 once set.
Any changes you expect from these projections? Surprise cuts? Surprise player(s) retained? Explain in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints.