Predicting the Saints’ first 53-man roster
Much like every NFL season at this time, predictions on what rosters will look like after all the cuts have begun.
There will be only one cutdown day this season, unlike previous years. The roster will shrink from 90 to 53 on Tuesday, August 29 at 3 p.m. Central time.
Yes, I know more practices and one exhibition game remain but we have enough information to start making best guesses. I think the Saints roster will have these players on it, at least at first:
Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Jake Haener
Running Back (4)
Jamaal Williams, Kendre Miller, Darrel Williams, Adam Prentice (FB)
Alvin Kamara is not included since he will not be available for the first three contests due to suspension. Kirk Merritt’s versatility as a running back and receiver make him an intriguing option who could land on the practice squad. Ellis Merriweather seems earmarked for the practice squad after a solid showing in preseason.
Tight End (3)
Juwan Johnson, Foster Moreau and Taysom Hill
If the team keeps four, Lucas Krull has flashed some ability in his second year in the organization. Unfortunately, a popular name absent is Jimmy Graham. I do not envision him surviving. Medical questions aside, the 36-year old just hasn’t displayed enough to overcome those ahead of him. Although the ultra-versatile Hill may be a tight end in name only, we list him here.
Offensive Line (9)
Trevor Penning, Andrus Peat, Cesar Ruiz, Ryan Ramcyzk, Erik McCoy, James Hurst, Max Garcia, Nick Saldiveri and Landon Young
I went back and forth on Calvin Throckmorton, but the arrival of veteran Max Garcia, who has both experience and ability to play virtually anywhere, make him the better interior choice. With Penning still experiencing a learning curve and Ramcyzk occasionally requiring days off last season, Landon Young may have an edge.
Wide Receiver (6)
Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, Keith Kirkwood, A.T. Perry and Tre’Quan Smith
Undrafted rookie Shaq Davis could be a surprise due to his overall potential and concern he may not sneak through waivers and onto the practice squad. I think Bryan Edwards is ticketed for the practice squad, as is Jontre Kirklin.
Defensive End (5)
Cam Jordan, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Isaiah Foskey, Carl Granderson, Payton Turner
Niko Lalos spent time with the New York Giants, including game appearances, before last year’s stint on the New Orleans practice squad. He has demonstrated that he deserves a longer look but the top five options if healthy are clear.
Defensive Tackle (4)
Nathan Shepherd, Khalen Saunders, Bryan Bresee and Malcolm Roach
Again, there appear to be no surprises in this group. Kpassagnon can help inside if necessary.
Pete Werner, Demario Davis, D’Marco Jackson, Zack Baun, Jaylon Smith and Ty Summers
The addition of Smith last week made sense but the situations is now even more bit murky for a couple of others. Ty Summers has played in 52 NFL games in six seasons while Ryan Connelly (31 contests in four years) but I gave Summers the edge due to overall special teams ability. The Saints may even decide to carry just five linebackers on the 53, perhaps opening up a spot for an extra defensive tackle or true tight end.
Marshon Lattimore, Alontae Taylor, Paulsen Adebo, Bradley Roby and Isaac Yiadom
Yiadom has shown daily improvement. Rookie free agent Anthony Johnson offers size (6-2, 205) and physicality but his best chance may be a practice squad offer.
Tyrann Mathieu, Marcus Maye, Ugo Amadi, Jordan Howden and J.T. Gray
Lonnie Johnson boasts four NFL seasons of experience while his size (6-2, 213) makes him an appealing candidate. It came down to Amadi and Johnson. I give the nudge to Amadi who seems to be everywhere including a punt return option. Smoke Monday could be headed to practice squad.
Deep snapper Zach Wood, punter Blake Gilliken and place kicker Wil Lutz
Once a player is waived, any NFL team can lay claim. These are the players who I expect to land on the Saints practice squad, although it can almost be expected that at least one or more will be added from the lists of cuts around the rest of the NFL. On the flip side, some Saints players waived could be quickly scooped up by another team as well.
The practice squad spots include a minimum salary of $216,000 as a league minimum per player for the 18-week season. Players with more than two years in the league can bump that up to a range of $16,100 to $20,000 each week.
Here are my guesses for the 16 current Saints who would be the best candidates for the practice squad:
Lynn Bowden, Jr.
Calvin Throckmorton (good chance to be claimed by another team if cut)
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to play football at LSU, developing a passion for the game in even greater fashion while in…