The New Orleans Saints are doing what they can to lower their salary cap to manageable levels. However, in doing so, they’ve had to release several players that would both provide depth and veteran leadership.
While the franchise was able to negotiate a restructured contract with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, they won’t have that same luck in reducing the salary of many other players.
Causing them to release or trade personnel that they’d otherwise take into the following season, the New Orleans Saints will be putting their immediately future partly in the hands of relatively unproven youth.
After releasing punter Thomas Morstead and tight end Jared Cook, the Saints are ushering in a roster that will depend heavily on rookies.
They aren’t rookies anymore, but Blake Gillikin and Adam Trautman have some big shoes to fill. Trautman will be taking over for former Pro Bowler Jared Cook.
Cook may have had some mistakes in the team’s final game of the season, but he was typically a reliable veteran for Brees these last few seasons. As for Gillikin, he’ll have big shoes to fill as the team also let go of Morstead, the Saints long-time punter.
This is just the start of the avalanche that is to come. With Alex Anzalone a free agent and Sheldon Ranking hitting the open market, the Saints are likely to give Zack Baun and then most likely a drafted defensive tackle high-impact reps.
Baun, Gillikin, and Trautman are still only the start as the team’s offensive line has also been impacted by the lack of cap space.
Nick Easton was released. Playing in ten-plus games last season, Easton was a key part of the line and likely aided the development of Cesar Ruiz and Erik McCoy. Easton’s release was one of the Saints’ first moves to get under the cap.
There will be a plethora of transactions to come, but as of now, it appears the Saints are going to be heavily relying on their youth next season. It could surprisingly help in a big way if many can take that next step into stardom.