The New Orleans Saints roster will suffer some scheduled paring-downs this year, but knowing they’re coming won’t make it any less painful. Little more than half of the players on the 90-man roster going into training camp will still be here come opening day against the Oakland Raiders in September.
I’m trucking along with my projection of the 53 players who will be on the final New Orleans Saints roster this autumn. You can read my predictions for the quarterbacks and runningbacks here. My assessment of the wide receivers who are in best-position to make the team is here. Let’s finish up the skills positions by reviewing the tight ends.
Tight Ends (3)
The tight end depth chart is the same as last year except for who’s sitting at the top. The Saints made Coby Fleener the twelfth-highest-paid tight end in football this summer as a younger replacement for Benjamin Watson, who was signed by the Baltimore Ravens.
Fleener is a complete tight end who can block adequately, though not well – which is standard in today’s NFL. Blocking isn’t a strength of Fleener’s, but it also isn’t really a weakness. But he isn’t being paid among the league’s better tight ends to be a dominant blocker, and neither is anyone else.
The second tight end on the Saints roster is Michael Hoomanawanui, who is a stellar blocker. He’s probably the strongest and most-physical of the trio, which helped him score often in the red zone last year; he converted three of his four catches inside the twenty-yard line into touchdowns. His role should continue to grow this season after signing a three-year contract.
Josh Hill is still mostly potential, but don’t sleep on him. He was quietly effective and warranted a three-year contract offer from the Chicago Bears, which the Saints decided to match. That offer came with a no-trade clause, so the Saints roster at tight end is intact for the foreseeable future.
Interestingly, that hasn’t stopped Sean Payton’s staff from looking for the next big thing at tight end. They have brought in a number of young athletes to look at developing as future contributors like Chris Manhertz (who spent 2015 on the practice squad and is eligible again this year), Jack Tabb (injured early in training camp last summer), journeyman RaShaun Allen, and Air Force graduate Garrett Griffin.
It would be a surprise if any of these guys made the active roster, but the Saints’ interest in them is still worth noting. Here’s hoping the best men win jobs come September’s kickoff.