What losing Chris Manhertz means for the Saints

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Aug 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Chris Manhertz (86) breaks a tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Doran Grant (24) during the second half of a preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Steelers defeated the Saints 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Chris Manhertz (86) breaks a tackle by Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Doran Grant (24) during the second half of a preseason game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Steelers defeated the Saints 27-14. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Panthers signed Saints tight end Chris Manhertz off of waivers this week.

The Saints cut Manhertz on Saturday to make room for rookie WR Jake Lampman. The move was motivated by the impending return of TE Josh Hill, as well as the injury to special teams star Erik Harris. Lampman played an important role on special teams against the Panthers.

Though Josh Hill returned and had a solid game, losing Manhertz will have an effect on this team. Sean Payton likes to keep three TEs on the active roster. It allows him to operate out of more versatile formations, and opens up some offensive sets. Remember last year, when the team traded Akiem Hicks to the Patriots for Michael Hoomanawanui? Hooman became the third TE on the roster, behind Benjamin Watson and Hill. With Hooman out for the year with a leg injury, Manhertz was that third TE that is a cornerstone of Payton’s system.

Whether or not the Saints expected other teams to have interest in Manhertz, they were surely hoping that he’d clear waivers. His release, the day before a game, was a gameplan move. The Saints needed help on special teams and were likely not planning on running out of many TE-heavy sets. On any given week, that could change. Now, if the Saints ever wanted to go with three active tight ends, as many teams do, they’d have to dip into their PS roster, where there are some intriguing prospects. Garrett Griffin, for example, is a hybrid TE/Long snapper, who could free up an extra roster spot if he ever made the 53.

Perhaps the most bitter-pill aspect of losing Manhertz is that the Saints had shown a commitment to his development. They signed Manhertz off of the Bills waiver cuts in the 2015 offseason. He went on to make the initial 53, and then spent the year on the PS. He’s raw and new to football. But Payton had expressed enthusiasm about his development and potential as a down-the-road option at TE. Now, it looks like that potential will be played out in Carolina.

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