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Training camp position battles: Wide receivers

The Saints have a three-headed monster at WR, but who’s going to fill out the rest of the position?

NFL: JAN 01 Saints at Eagles Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints have come a long way since Sean Payton’s makeshift WR cores. Now, the Saints have a trio of elite receiving weapons in Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Rashid Shaheed. All three of these guys are all but guaranteed a roster spot in 2023, but there’s an interesting battle between a handful of players trying to fill out the WR room.

The Saints typically carry six WR on their 53-man roster. As of today, they have 12 receivers on their depth chart going into training camp. Most years it’s easier to figure out who will make the final cuts, but there is a lot of talent battling for the final three spots in 2023.

Trequan Smith is a name that Saints fans are very familiar with. The former third round pick out of UCF has been a factor in the Saints offense since he arrived in 2018. In his five-year career, he’s never eclipsed 35 catches and 500 yards, but he’s made a name for himself in the run game. He’s proven to be the best run blocking receiver the Saints have had over the years. If he can continue to block well and make a hand full of plays downfield, he’s the most likely WR4.

The Saints traded up in the sixth round of this year's NFL Draft to select A.T. Perry out of Wake Forest. Perry was mocked to be a much higher pick, but some late reports of off the field issues seemed to make him fall. At 6’5, 205 Ibs, Perry is the tallest receiver on the roster. In 2021 and 2022 he caught 152 balls for over 2,100 yards and 26 touchdowns at Wake Forest. He’s got all the talent in the world, and considering the Saints traded away another pass catcher in Adam Trautman to move up for him, it would be hard to see him get cut.

The WR6 position is where things get really interesting. James Washington, Keith Kirkwood and Bryan Edwards can all make a very different case for the final roster spot. Washington came into the league with a ton of potential but hasn’t really put it all together yet. Kirkwood has been on and off the Saints roster multiple times, but he has experience with the Saints staff. And Edwards has worked with Carr in 2020 and 2021 where he caught 45 balls for 664 yards and four touchdowns. It’s going to be a very tough choice for the Saints front office to make, but ultimately, it’ll likely come down to who has a better camp and who connects best with Carr.

If you’re going to attend the Saints training camp this year, keep your eyes on these three guys battling it out. There are some other guys with an outside chance of making the roster, but Edwards, Washington and Kirkwood seem to have the best chance out of the bunch.

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