The New Orleans Saints made a rather peculiar move when trimming their 53-man roster. That is, they kept two punters, Thomas Morstead and Blake Gillikin.
Preparing for a crazy season ahead, the New Orleans Saints kept two punters on their 53-man roster.
It was an odd move that may shock some other organizations. The Saints kept veteran Thomas Morestead and rookie Blake Gillikin. Gillikin was clearly the more likely to be cut of the two as he’s just starting his time in the Big Easy.
No one really expected the former Penn State Nittany Lion to make the cut when the team retained just five receivers. However, he has potential, and Payton saw that. But, thriving in training camp doesn’t necessarily guarantee a spot on the roster.
So why did Payton keep the punter on the roster instead of another wide receiver?
“I think you’ll see from us and from most of the other teams in the league, these next two weeks there’s going to be a lot more transactions. The flexibility we have relative to practice squad now, to active roster on game day, it’ll be difficult for you guys (in the media) to keep up with,” Payton said according to NOLA.com’s Luke Johnson.
Payton is expecting quite a bit of activity.
With the Saints allowed to activate two players on their practice squad, one loaded with high-potential players like Tommy Stevens and Bennie Fowler, on game day to bring the total to 55, it’ll be easier for Payton to bring in necessary talent if need be this season.
Also, the team is allowed 16 on the practice squad so that likely helps in retaining talent from their initial 80 players.
However, if they’re on the practice squad, they could go elsewhere at almost any moment. That’s likely the reason they kept Gillikin around. Johnson did get a better answer from Payton on why they kept two punters.
“Lot of it has to do with a vision relative to our overall roster, and then some flexibility,” he continued with.
The Saints could free up $3.3 million by trading Morestead, according to John Sigler of Saints Wire. That could be another huge reason why as they could’ve been looking to deal Morestead and already have his replacement on the roster.
An elite punter, there aren’t many at Morestead’s level in the NFL.
Clearly, Payton and his staff view Gillikin as a long-term option at punter. That said, Morestead isn’t a free agent until the 2023 season, so I wouldn’t expect both of them to end the season on the team’s final 53-man roster.