Two big themes stood out to me as the cheap new orleans saints jerseys cut down their roster to 53 players on Saturday. First, they kept six undrafted free agents from this year's rookie class and finally kept receiver Andy Tanner on the roster -- proving more than ever their mantra that they don't care how you got here, they just care how you play when you arrive.
Secondly, the Saints kept only three outside linebackers on the roster -- none of whom played a snap for the Saints in the preseason (Junior Galette, Martez Wilson and newly acquired veteran Parys Haralson). They released veteran outside linebacker Jay Richardson, one of their biggest surprises of the day after he had played so well this summer at such a thin position.
For starters, the Saints must be confident that Galette and Wilson will be healthy enough to play next Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Galette has certainly hinted at that on his Twitter feed.
The Saints might also be prepared to add another outside linebacker in the coming days after the cuts that were made around the NFL on Saturday.
Or it's possible that the Saints will line up in a lot more 4-3 alignments this year than they originally intended. They spent almost the entire game in a 4-3 look during Thursday night's preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins.
Regardless, the Saints' new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has proven his willingness to adapt throughout his career and throughout this summer -- changing the schemes and the personnel from snap to snap. Ryan will have to be even more creative now that the Saints have lost two of their potential starters at outside linebacker (Victor Butler and Will Smith) to season-ending injuries.
The new orleans saints jerseys cheap lived up to their reputation as a team that is willing to give undrafted free agents a shot. They kept a whopping six of them from this year's rookie class -- including Khiry Robinson as a fifth tailback. The others were defensive end Glenn Foster, inside linebacker Kevin Reddick, cornerback Rod Sweeting, guard/center Tim Lelito and tight end Josh Hill.
I've already earned a chorus of I-told-you-so's from readers for leaving both Tanner and Robinson off my 53-man roster projection. And I deserve them. Both players clearly earned their spots with impressive preseason performances. And I should have just believed my eyes more than trying to analyze what roles they might play this season.
Both Tanner and Robinson will still have a hard time cracking the active roster on game days since they don't play key special teams roles. But the Saints clearly believed that they showed enough to keep them around with those extra roster spots for now, rather than risk losing them to another team.
Good for both of them -- and good for the cheap saints jerseys for continuing to prove they reward players for their production on the field.
The Saints kept longtime leader Jonathan Vilma on their 53-man roster, rather than placing him on injured reserve. Vilma will probably be another player who is inactive on the game-day roster next week against the Falcons, since he hasn't returned to practice yet after having arthroscopic knee surgery August. But it's obviously a good sign that the Saints expect him to be healthy soon -- and that they believe he can still be a contributor when he returns.
One of the most noteworthy cuts Saturday was the release of longtime special teams captain and gunner Courtney Roby, who had been with the Saints for most of the past five seasons -- an underrated but core member of some of the greatest teams in franchise history.
Although Roby's exit wasn't a total shock, his exit was probably the toughest one for longtime teammates to absorb Saturday. He'll be missed, assuming they don't bring him back, like they did after he missed the 53-man cut in 2009.
Meanwhile, the Saints kept six inside linebackers on their 53-man roster partly because of Vilma's injury, -but mostly because so many guys can help on special teams. Veterans Ramon Humber and Will Herring are core special teams players, and rookie Reddick looks like he can be an asset there, too.
The saints jerseys cheap also kept 10 defensive backs, in part because many of the backups can help on special teams. They skewed younger in the secondary, releasing veterans Jim Leonhard and Chris Carr.
One or two of the guys who made the cut Saturday could still be released in the coming days if the Saints decide to pick up players released by other teams. That happened last year when they added safety Rafael Bush and cornerback Jerome Murphy, for example.
Once the waiver period passes, the Saints will also try to get back some of the young players they released by adding them to their practice squad. Quarterback Ryan Griffin is an obvious candidate, though the Saints don't always keep a quarterback full-time on their practice squad. So don't be shocked if Griffin isn't immediately on their practice squad list. Either way, I still think he has a bright future in New Orleans and could be competing for the backup job as early as next year.
Among other top candidates I would expect to see the Saints try to bring back on the practice squad are outside linebacker Rufus Johnson (a sixth-round draft pick this year), fullback Austin Johnson, offensive linemen Marcel Jones and Andrew Tiller, receiver Saalim Hakim and safety Jerico Nelson.
Griffin excelled at Tulane for four seasons and then joined the Saints following the 2013 NFL Draft as a free agent. Griffin was a four-year letterman and starter who played in 42 games with 39 starts, completed 836-of-1396 passes (59.9 percent) for 9,026 yards, 79 touchdowns and 35 interceptions while scoring one rushing touchdown during his career. Griffin set Tulane career records in pass attempts, completions, completion percentage while finishing second in passing yards, passing yards per game (214.9), pass attempts per game (33.2), completions per game (19.8) and 300-yard passing games (10), fourth in touchdown passes, fifth in touchdown passes per game (1.3), sixth in passing efficiency (122.4), eighth in lowest interception percentage (4.19) and 10th in yards per pass attempt (6.5). In extensive action in the 2013 preseason for the Saints, he completed 32-of-59 passes for 380 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Hakim first joined the Saints practice squad in December 2012, spending the final two games on the club’s active roster. In the 2013 preseason, he had two receptions for 61 yards, including a 53-yard grab in the club’s preseason finale on Thursday, at Miami. Following one season at Tarleton State in 2010, Hakim, the younger brother of former Saints wideout Az-Zahir Hakim, spent the 2011 season with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL, went to training camp with the Dallas Cowboys in 2012 and also spent part of the campaign on the practice squad of the St. Louis Rams before joining the Saints.
Higgins first signed with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska-Omaha in 2011. In 2011 and 2012, he appeared in four games for the Saints with one start, recording two receptions for one yard. He spent the bulk of both seasons on the Saints practice squad. In the 2013 preseason, Higgins had three receptions for 15 yards.
Johnson, who played both linebacker and fullback at Tennessee, went to training camp with the Saints and had two carries for one yard, four receptions for 23 yards with one touchdown and one special teams stop in a role primarily as a blocker and on special teams.
Jones was the club’s seventh round pick in 2012. After spending his entire rookie campaign on Injured Reserve with a knee injury, Jones worked at both tackle and guard in the 2013 preseason. He came to the Saints after spending two seasons as Nebraska’s starting right tackle.
Rolle first joined the Saints off of waivers last Tuesday from the Buffalo Bills, who first signed him following the 2013 NFL Draft as a free agent out of Catawba. Rolle enjoyed a 16-interception career in college. As a senior in 2012, Rolle was an All-American selection, picking off six passes, breaking up 10 more, making 56 tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and four blocked kicks.
Every year, the final cut of the preseason brings about jubilation for players who are fortunate enough to survive the ordeal. On the other end of the spectrum, there is plenty of heartache from the players who aren't as fortunate.
The NFL is a business that can be very fulfilling and rewarding one day, and extremely upsetting the next.
For fans of the New Orleans Saints, the process can feel very much like the latter part of the previous statement. Due to a quality scouting department, it was widely accepted that tough decisions were to be made this preseason.
The New Orleans Saints cut their roster from 75 to 53 on Saturday. It's likely not completely final, as they'll be taking a long look at the waiver wire on Sunday before establishing a eight-man practice squad.
The Saints cut veterans Courtney Roby, Jim Leonhard, Jay Richardson and Chris Carr, while waiving some notable names from training camp such as Ryan Griffin, Preston Parker and Rufus Johnson.
Notably, they kept wide receiver Andy Tanner, and two running backs in Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson. They kept six undrafted rookies, and only three outside linebackers.
Which roster move surprised you the most Saints fans? And what players were you most excited to see crack the roster? Write your thoughts in the comments below.