Category Archives: Uncategorized

Saints hire two scouts

The Saints hired two more scouts to fill to their staff.

The team reportedly added Steve Malin and C.J. Leak to work as scouts, according to industry website InsideTheLeague.com.

Malin has worked from the Giants since 2001. Prior to that, he served as a regional scout in the XFL. He also served as a defensive assistant for six seasons at Southern Methodist University.

Leak spent the last three seasons serving as an area scout for the Bills. He previously worked as a combine scout and a pro personnel assistant. He spent time on the Bills’ practice squad in 2006.

The Saints recently lost area scout Brendan Prophett, who is now serving as the Detroit Lions’ director of pro scouting.

 

Jack Tabb is eager to show the Saints what he can do on the field

It was a rough time for Jack Tabb.

After hooking on with the Saints as an undrafted rookie last season, he was starting to make an impact during training camp when he went down and clutched his knee during training camp last summer. He was carted off the field with a torn ACL, which effectively ended his season.

“It hurt me,” Tabb said. “As soon as I felt like I started making some plays, moving up, getting more reps, it all just kind of went like that. God works in mysterious ways, right?”

There is still mystery about what Tabb can do as a player. During his best season at North Carolina, he caught 26 passes for 257 yards. That was likely more the result of the offense not providing the athletic tight end with opportunities, but it also makes it difficult to expect moving forward.

Tabb is now to the point where he’s starting to get back in the mix and is hopeful he can get on the field and answer whatever questions remain about his ability in the near future.

He wishes he could have done that last year, but there was a bright side to having to sit out the whole season.

“Watching Ben Watson and Josh (Hill) and how they handled the season (was valuable),” Tabb said. “I know it’s a hard transition going into your rookie season. Just being able to sit back, get healthy and watch was a blessing as well.”

Tabb enters this season in the mix with Chris Manhertz and RaShaun Allen for a roster spot behind Hill, Michael Hoomanawanui and Coby Fleener. The battle for the final roster spot — if one even exists — will be a highly-contested battle.

Tabb, who will be in the mix as a flex tight end, is exited to get back on the field and go to work.

“I think (the competition) is great. I really like the room,” Tabb said. “Obviously, Coby is new. He has a lot of input, he’s been making plays up in Indy quite a while. Me, Chris, RaShuan — we’re the young guys in the room. We’re all fight and scratching. We all got something a little different we bring to the table.”

Roger Goodell writes Tom Benson to say he was impressed by Saints’ Super Bowl bid

Even though New Orleans lost its bid to host Super Bowl 53 to Atlanta, the NFL was still impressed with the Saints’ effort to land the game.

Commissioner Roger Goodell recently sent Tom Benson a letter that was obtained by The Advocate to express those regards. He also said he wants New Orleans to host a Super Bowl in the near future.

“The vision for the ‘Big Easy, Super Bowl’ was well articulated and presented. It is clear to all owners that New Orleans is a top-notch Super Bowl city with talented leadership representing the Saints and the community,” Goodell wrote. “Although you did not secure the 2019 game against unusually strong and unique competition, we would look forward to working closely with you and your community in bringing a Super Bowl back to New Orleans soon.

“There is a reason New Orleans has been the home of 10 Super Bowls, and we know that it is in a strong position to host more in the future.

“Thank you for your leadership and your many contributions to the success of the league. Our office and the Super Bowl Advisory Committee will continue to support your efforts.

“My best to you and Gayle, who did an excellent job articulating the case for NOLA.”

Benson has been engaged in a legal battle with his heirs since he laid out a plan to leave the Saints and Pelicans to his wife, Gayle, upon his passing.  However, many of his interests and businesses continue to do well.

Since Benson’s heirs tried to have him interdicted, the Pelicans made the playoffs in 2015 and are now working to get back on track. A source indicated that there are plans to tweak some things for next season.

His TV station, Fox 8, surpassed WWL in the ratings for the first time in 38 years.

Benson also put two horses in the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby.

Notes and observations from Thursday’s organized team activity

We finally got our first look at the Saints in action. Remember, these are organized team activities. It’s extremely early. The things we see likely won’t hold, or may not even be an indication of what the team is thinking.

With that said, here are a few observations:

Attendance, please: Brandin Cooks, Jairus Byrd, Jack Tabb and Kasim Edebali worked out off to the side. Mitchell Loewen, Jamarca Sanford, Tommylee Lewis and Sione Houma rode bikes. Keenan Lewis, Cam Jordan, Bobby Richardson and Davis Tull did not participate in team drills. Undrafted offensive lineman Avery Young was not spotted at practice. Tim Lelito also did not practice.

Safety look: With Jairus Byrd sideline, Erik Harris and Vonn Bell played the deep safety role in nickel packages with Kenny Vaccaro roaming the box. Vaccaro was all over the field. He often blitzed, covered slot receivers and played deep as the strong safety. Vaccaro had a few nice blitzes in nickel looks with Stephone Anthony and Dannell Ellerbe handling the linebacker duties.

Defensive end shuffle: Hau’oli Kikaha and Davis Tull received their work with the defensive ends during individual drills. Kikaha played Jack during team drills. Obum Gwacham worked some as the strongside defensive end. Kikaha recorded sacks on back-to-back plays at one point working against a second-team offensive lineman.

Rookie work: David Onyemata received some snaps with the first-team defense, but coach Sean Payton said that was more due to the team mixing guys around and trying to get players snaps in different packages. With Brandin Cooks out, Michael Thomas appeared to be working high in the rotation.

Offensive line shuffle: Andrus Peat received snaps at right guard with Senio Kelemete working at left guard. Payton said Peat has been receiving work at both positions.

Grayson: People are going to see what they want to see, but quarterback Garrett Grayson appeared to be more in command than he was at this time last year. He threaded two really nice passes down the field to Kyle Prater and Josh Hill. The one to Hill came up the seam and over the arms of a defender. He hit Kyle Prater on an out route earlier in practice over a defender, but the pass was not reeled in.

Defensive play of the day: Didn’t catch who it was on, but Delvin Breaux dove to break up a pass during team drills. He still looks good. Vaccaro also had a nice PBU. He was the most active player on the field.

Guys to keep an eye on: Wide receivers R.J. Harris and Jared Dangerfield caught my eye at different points throughout the practice. It’s early, but they We’ll be keeping an eye on them moving forward.

Putting in work: James Laurinaitis and Anthony mixed in and out in the nickel package. You could see the veteran directing traffic and getting guys lined up already at this early juncture. He should be a settling presence for this young defense.

Position switch: Kaleb Eulls moved from defensive tackle to guard. Sean Payton said he feels like Eulls had the skills to make the switch.

David Onyemata contract details

Here are the contract details on the four-year, $2.82 million deal signed by David Onyemata, according to a source:

2016
Base salary: $450,000
Split: $333,000
Signing bonus (prorated): $135,586 ($542,344 total)

2017
Base salary: $540,000
Split: $363,000
Signing bonus (prorated): $135,586

2018
Base salary: $630,000
Signing bonus (prorated): $135,586

2019
Base salary: $720,000
Signing bonus (prorated): $135,586

Saints mailbag: Will Garrett Grayson be the future quarterback?

We’re going to start this off with a bit of a rant.

Do you see Grayson as the Saints future QB?@Jkdewitt

I get asked about Garrett Grayson all the time. I’ll admit that it gets a bit frustrating constantly telling people to wait and see. I know this has nothing to do with what you’re asking, @jkdewitt, but I need this moment to get this off my chest.

Here we go …

People want their teams to draft and develop players, right? That’s all I hear during draft season. Then when a team drafts a player they want to develop, suddenly everyone wants him to be a Day 1 NFL starter. That’s just not real life for most of the players selected in the draft.

And yet, for some reason, the narrative surrounding Grayson has been one of panic since the day he was picked. Why? Drew Brees is under contract. The Saints don’t need a starter right now. Grayson is someone the team believes has potential and wants to groom him for a few years to see where he’s at down the road.

I read tweets during last training camp (!) about how the Saints should get rid of Grayson. I’m not an NFL scout, but he never looked that bad to me. He looked like a rookie. He made mistakes. He was in his first camp. He was still learning. There were highs. There were lows. It was exactly how you would have expected him to look.

Keep in mind that this system was designed and has evolved over the last 10 years to suit a quarterback who will end up in the Hall of Fame,  not a guy coming out of a Colorado State. It’s like asking a first-year law student to pass the bar after handing him a syllabus on the first day of class.

We still haven’t seen what Grayson looks like with a command for the offense, when he can work through his reads without thinking about his reads. Let’s judge him after seeing that.

I don’t know if it was a bad sign that Grayson wasn’t named the immediate option when it was speculated Brees could miss time late last season. I don’t know if it’s a bad sign that Luke McCown was brought back this offseason.

What I do know is that there was a plan to develop Grayson. Had the opportunity materialized, I’m not sure that abandoning the red shirt last year and throwing him to the wolves would have been the right decision — especially not for a player who plays a position where confidence is so important. Is it worth risking failure when there’s a long-term vision?

The other part of that: No one knows for sure who would have started if Brees was unavailable. Maybe it would have been Grayson. Maybe it wouldn’t have. Either way, it’s a stretch to assume a decision either way would have meant something greater in the grand scheme.

So, what about the future? Will he beat out McCown this summer? Does it matter if he beats out McCown? Will he be the next quarterback? Will he get cut? I don’t know. No one does.

We need to see this camp and preseason. And even then, we might not have all the answers on this topic. Grayson needs time to grow.

Besides, Brees is still under contract for 2016. The Saints didn’t draft another quarterback. Nothing can be done right now. There’s no reason to rush to conclusions before we have the information needed to reach one.

OK, I’m good. Let’s get into the rest of the mailbag.

Why are we so acceptant of Drew’s salary-cap cost?@RickeyP11

I don’t think I’m really acceptant of it. I only speak for myself, but I’m not a big fan of kicking the can down the line. But I think, at least for now, considering the situation of recent seasons as well as this one, you just have to turn a blind eye to it for now.

The good news is that they haven’t done anything too ridiculous with the major moves this offseason. Terron Armstead’s contract is relatively flat after this season. He has a $5 million roster bonus, which could be converted to a signing bonus next year. That would pump his cap hits up around $15 million in 2019 and 2020.

Hopefully, the team sticks to a path of more responsible spending and contract structures. It’s easy to act like the cap doesn’t exist, but you’ll eventually run into issues. The problem isn’t just Brees’ cap number. That’s just the most visible symptom of a series of decisions that led to this.

Do you think Michael Thomas will break out like Odell Beckham in his rookie year?@Cheeseballs2k

So, we’re just setting the bar at one of the best rookie seasons of all time? No, pressure, Mike.

Beckham caught 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns over 12 games that season. That’s 108.8 yards per game. The Saints have never had a receiver average more than 81.9 yards per game with Brees at quarterback.

I’ll let Thomas surprise me if that happens.

Is Cadet on the fringe again because of the excess at running back?@Midel_Castro

I think he was going to have to win his job no matter what. But drafting Daniel Lasco is another obstacle for him to overcome.

I like Cadet a lot. I thought it was a mistake when they let him get away. I never expected him to perform as well as he did at the end of the season, but he’s obviously a great fit for this system.

I know it will come back to haunt me — it still bothers me that I was SO wrong about him last year — but I still think C.J. Spiller can be a good player for this team.

Everything I said last year is still true. Theoretically speaking, Spiller has the skills to succeed in this offense. Sean Payton has displayed time and time again he knows how to use those kinds of players.

Having said that, I think Cadet showed he’s solid insurance in the event things don’t work out with the other players on the roster.

Do you see Fairley and Rankins taking over as the starting defensive tackles?@Wonton_Robin

This was followed up with another Tweet explaining that the logic behind the thinking was to get the four best players on the line.

I get it. Put the best players on the field and let them succeed, even if someone isn’t in their natural position. It’s the same thing we’ve been talking about here by suggesting that Andrus Peat could play at guard next season.

But I struggle to envision Fairley or Rankins playing a position other than three-technique defensive tackle. That would put John Jenkins and Tyeler Davison at the nose in base. That makes more sense to me.

Rankins did a lot of different thinks at Louisville, but he’s here because of his ability to rush the passer. I’m not sure Fairley has ever played nose. It’s hard to know if he’s suited for it.

I think by taking either of those guys and dropping them at nose it would take away from their ability to get after the passer. I can’t see it right now.

But I’ve been wrong before. I’m the guy who hyped up Spiller like he was going to be Marshall Faulk. By the way, I’m sorry for ruining your fantasy football teams. One of my editors here still hasn’t forgiven me.

Would the Saints ever consider putting Unger at Guard if Jack Allen looks good? I know it would be asking a lot of Allen.@EdTostevin

I think the Saints would consider doing whatever they think is the best thing for the team. But you said it; that’s asking a lot of Allen. He’s an undrafted player. Those guys aren’t guaranteed to stick around.

We’re talking about a guy who was in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago as a center. I think that’s Unger’s best position, and it would take a monstrous performance for this to even become a consideration.

This is another one that I don’t see happening.

Do you think the Saints carry a fullback this year or an extra tight end?@RobertFouquet

I thought the Saints were moving away from the position last year by using Michael Hoomanawanui in a lot of packages where a fullback previously played. Then the fullback came back, and the Saints added an undrafted player at the position.

I’m not sure Payton will ever fully move away from the position. He likes having those guys around. And he knows how to use them to his advantage in the passing game.

There are going to be six or seven plays every year where he’ll sneak a fullback out of the backfield and get him wide open in the flat for a reception.

New Orleans will keep whatever player will bring more value to the team, but it will be hard for Payton to give up on fullbacks.

Pick one player for the Saints that becomes a Top 10 player at his position and one player to stay healthy all year?@Thaidai3

Easy. Delvin Breaux. Take out three plays from last season (slips against the Colts and the play where he got lost in the lights) and the rest of the country isn’t sleeping on this guy.

I don’t know about staying healthy, but James Laurinaitis doesn’t miss snaps. I’m convinced he’d have to lose a leg to miss any action.

What two players do you see making the biggest jump on both offense and defense?  — @AndrewHogue1

That’s tough to answer on offense. Even though I think Brandin Cooks will continue to improve, he’s already a star. It would be cheating to select him. Everyone else is already well established.

Whether he’s the third or fourth receiver, I think that Brandon Coleman will continue to improve. Something clicked for him late last year with Marques Colston out and I think he’s ready to contribute in a more substantial way.

On defense, I’m going to go with Hau’oli Kikaha. I think the Saints are going to use him in ways that will better suit his skills. I also think he’ll have more opportunities to contribute after disappearing down the stretch last year, which was in part due to an ankle injury.

Does the addition of Vonn Bell take less off of the plate of a Kenny Vaccaro and let him play a little more loose next season?@JDayErrday

I don’t know how much it will directly impact Vaccaro. He was already playing in the box and close to the line of scrimmage most of the time last year. I think he’ll continue doing those things, though his role could change a little bit.

I think it will more impact the safety position. The Saints might use more two-high looks, with Bell and Jairus Byrd splitting the field.

Saints waive QB Griffin Neal and DB Michael Caputo

Griffin Neal’s storybook rise with the Saints has come to an end.

The former Division III quarterback who spent last season playing in Germany, was among the a group of players waived by the Saints following rookie minicamp.

New Orleans also let go of safety Mike Caputo and wide receiver Shayne Winn.

The team also signed linebacker Tony Steward, bringing the total to five new additions following this weekend’s rookie minicamp after also signing wide receiver Jake Lampman, tackle Tyrus Thompson, cornerback Jimmy Pruitt and tight end Garrett Griffin.

The team must part ways with two more players.

Steward, a product of Clemson, spent last season with the Buffalo Bills and appeared in seven games. He finished with two tackles.

Neal signed with the Saints after catching the eye of the team at Tulane’s Pro Day. He told The Advocate over the weekend that he had some trouble calling plays in the huddle but felt as if he were starting to settle in.

Caputo signed with the Saints as an undrafted player out of Wisconsin earlier this month. He received a $3,000 signing bonus.

Tulane’s Royce LaFrance receives invite to Saints camp

Royce LaFrance will get another chance to continue his football career in New Orleans.

The former Tulane defensive lineman tried out at the New Orleans Saints’ rookie minicamp this week and has earned an invite to audition a second time at another camp in June.

LaFrance was among a group of more than 40 players who tried out this week for the Saints.

During his senior season at Tulane, LaFrance recorded 13.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.

Source: Saints part ways with WR Shane Wynn

The Saints have parted ways with wide receiver Shane Wynn, according to a source.

The 5-foot-6, 167-pounder spent the final weeks of last season on the practice squad. His release opens a spot for Ferris State wide receiver Jake Lampman, who was signed after trying out at rookie minicamp.

Originally signed by the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent, Wynn spent training camp with the Cleveland Browns. He also spent time on the Chargers’ and Jets’ practice squads.

Connor Barth among the kickers working out for the Saints this week

The Saints are exploring all options to locate an answer at kicker.

After bringing back Kai Forbath and singing Josh Scobee this offseason, New Orleans is now working out some kickers at rookie minicamp. Among those in attendance are rookie Anthony Pistelli (Samford), Connor Barth and Nate Freese.

Both Barth and Freese have professional experience. Freese played for Detroit in 2014, when he connected on three of his seven attempts. Barth went 23-for-28 last season for Tampa Bay.

Pistelli went 20-for-23 last season. He missed on his only attempt from 50 yards or deeper.

Coach Sean Payton said he was impressed with how Barth has performed this week.

“He has hit the ball out here well,” Payton said. “When we have a chance to get a guy who was in our division and has kicked well, it (gives us) a firsthand look.”

New Orleans has been in search for a steady answer at kicker for a few years. Last year, Zach Hocker and Dustin Hopkins competed for the job during camp.

New Orleans decided to keep Hocker, who was cut after struggling through the first half of the season. Hopkins signed with the Washington Redskins and thrived.

Forbath came in to replace Hopkins and made 9 of 13 attempts, including a game-winning 50-yard attempt against the New York Giants in Week 8.

Payton said no matter what happens, the team will not take three kickers to training camp. t’s not an indictment on the two kickers currently here. He is just another talented player that we can look at for three days and that is a

“It’s not an indictment on the two kickers currently here,” Payton said. “(Barth) is just another talented player that we can look at for three days and that is a position, unlike some of the others, that is a little easier to evaluate than it is others.”