The NFL can be a very shrewd business. Players are hardly ever guaranteed a roster spot, especially after a losing season like the New Orleans Saints had last year. It is likely some fan favorites and veterans alike could be replaced. Of course, each player is going to have to prove they belong on the field during training camp battles. With only 53 roster spots available for the regular season roster, everyone has to earn their spot nearly every off-season. For the Saints, some key positions such as kicker, punter, wide receiver, running back, and safety will be decided in the upcoming week. These are the New Orleans Saints players on the bubble going into 2023 training camp.
2023 training camp bubble players
Wide receiver has become one of those most interesting positions for the New Orleans Saints in recent years. The Michael Thomas saga has greatly contributed to this positional attention. Trading up to draft budding superstar Chris Olave has as well. Of course, these two players’ roster spots are locked, but what about behind them? Last season, the Saints carried six wide receivers throughout the regular season. Rasheed Shaheed’s emergence, and his ability to play as a returner along with receiver, likely secures his roster spot as well. That leaves either three or four positions available for the regular season roster. This could very well put the much-maligned Tre’Quan Smith on the bubble.
Going into training camp, there are eight players vying for these final few wide receiver roster spots. Newly signed James Washington and Bryan Edwards will bring a veteran presence to the roster battle. The former Las Vegas Raiders receiver, Edwards, has an advantage since he spent three years playing with new quarterback Derek Carr. Keith Kirkwood and Kawaan Baker have been with the team in previous seasons, possibly giving them an advantage. Of course, the Saints also drafted A.T. Perry in the most recent NFL Draft. From the undrafted free agency pool comes Shaq Davis and Malik Flowers. The Saints saw a weak positional group behind Olave and Thomas and added several bodies this off-season. With a new quarterback under center, it is likely that the wide receiver group will have several new faces this season.
Elsewhere on the offense, running back is suddenly very crowded. The Saints signed Jamaal Williams and drafted Kendre Williams this off-season. This likely secures their spots while Alvin Kamara’s issues with the law concludes. This leaves Eno Benjamin, SaRodorick Thompson, and Ellis Merriweather fighting for one or two roster spots. Journeyman Benjamin will have a tough battle against undrafted free agent signees Thompson and Merriweather. Scouting and signing running backs has always been a talent for the Saints front office. It is likely that these new players were not signed by accident. The running back battle in training camp and pre-season will likely be very intriguing.
Saints defensive bubble players
Safety might have the most questions of any position for the Saints. The Saints brought in several veterans recently along with the returning players from last season. It is not guaranteed that Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye, or J.T. Gray has secured a roster spot. With the Saints likely to carry just five into the season, veterans Lonnie Johnson Jr, Johnathan Abram, and Ugo Amadi could push to make this team. Drafting Jordan Howden and the returning Smoke Monday join what is sure to be an exciting training camp roster. The Saints did not bring in this many veterans and youngsters to keep the status quo from last season. The aging Mathieu, unproven Maye, and career backup Gray could be bubble players to the new cast of safeties in New Orleans.
The cornerbacks in the Saints secondary could also have some new faces this season. Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor, and Paulson Adebo are almost locks to be on the roster this season. Several newcomers could put Bradley Roby on the bubble though. Troy Pride Jr and Isaac Yiadom were signed this off-season. In the undrafted class, the Saints signed Anthony Johnson and Adrian Frye. It is likely that the last two cornerback slots will be decided by players who can play all over the secondary. With Roby primarily playing slot these days, any of these new players could put Roby on the cutting block in the pre-season.
Training camp battles
Special teams will also likely have a few training camp battles, even if it is to push the incumbents. The Saints signed a kicker and a punter after the NFL Draft. Blake Grupe out of Notre Dame was brought in to push Wil Lutz while Lou Hedley from the Miami Hurricanes was brought in to challenge Blake Gillikin. These could just be depth players, but Lutz and Gillikin will need to rebound this season. Each had years last season and could be on the bubble if improvement is not seen.
The New Orleans Saints bubble players are a mix of new players and veterans alike. Some fan favorites could be challenged, leading to some surprising cuts later this pre-season. It is shaping up to be an exciting couple of months leading up to the 2023 NFL Regular season.