In the upcoming weeks, I will break down a few of the positions on the Saints roster that figure to have competition. Today, I look at the corner position.
Here’s a look at the corners currently listed on the roster:
Mike McKenzie: McKenzie has been overlooked far too long for the production he has given since the Saints acquired him in 2004. He has been a legitimate #1 corner and a leader in the secondary. There are now concerns about him entering this season, however. He tore his ACL on an absolutely freakish play against the Eagles last season in week 16. The signs indicate that he is doing well in his rehab but the team is acting as if he will not be ready by the start of the season.
Randall Gay: Gay signed a four-year deal worth up to $17.6 million contract as a free agent this offseason. He comes from a winning pedigree, spending his first four seasons with the Patriots. Gay, only 25, gives the Saints a player with experience in big games and solid versatility, having experience at safety as well.
Jason David: David signed a four-year $15.6 million deal as a restricted free-agent last offseason. The Saints also had to give the Colts a fourth-round pick as part of the deal. David struggled mightily, and that may be an understatement, in his first season converting from the cover 2 the Colts play to the Saints man-to-man coverage. David is a little undersized (5’8″) to play man coverage which makes this deal look even worse.
Jason Craft: Craft has now been with the Saints for four seasons. He has done a relatively solid job playing the nickel back for the team over the past few seasons. This season, however, the 32-year old Craft faces the most competition the team has ever had at the position.
Tracy Porter: Porter was selected with the 40th overall selection in this year’s draft. Porter started the majority of his career at Indiana University and has the size you look for in a corner to play man-to-man. Porter also has some return ability and may see some playing time returning kicks.
Usama Young: Young was a third-round selection out of Kent State in last year’s draft. Last season, Young’s playing time was inconsistent, which could also be used to describe his production. He was only a rookie, however, and will be given every opportunity this offseason to earn playing time. He showed he has all the tools to play corner in the NFL and it will be up to him to make his mark.
Aaron Glenn: The veteran Glenn was brought in a few weeks ago to add to the depth at corner. The 35-year old has recorded 41(!) career interceptions in his 12-year career. The Saints have a pair of talented young corners (Young and Porter) which makes Glenn very valuable this training camp for tutelage.
Anwar Phillips: Phillips signed with the team as an undrafted free agent after the 2006 draft. He has spent the past few seasons on the practice squad. Phillips started a few seasons at Penn St. and will have the chance to step up this season and see some playing time.
Greg Fassitt: Fassitt spent his rookie season last season on the Bears practice squad. He signed with the Saints in January.
Breakdown: The Saints have received poor play at the corner position opposite of Mike McKenzie the past few seasons. The team has done a very solid job this offseason in adding players and overflowing it with depth. The locks on the team figure to be McKenzie, Porter and Gay. It’s tough to imagine McKenzie being ready to play in week 1 after suffering the ACL injury so late last season. Assuming the team carries five corners to start the season, here are the corners I think make the team at the beginning: Gay, David, Porter, Young and Glenn. I’m speculating but I think McKenzie will probably be forced to start the season on physically unable to perform (PUP) list. The Saints absolutely need a healthy McKenzie this season and should take the time needed for a full recovery.