Saints Post-2021 NFL Draft State of the Roster: Special Teams
Special teams is a huge part of the New Orleans Saints‘ roster and this year, while a different unit will be taking the stage, won’t be an exception. The Saints feed off their special teams’ ability to either put the opposition in a difficult situation or to help put points on the board should the offense not be able to execute.
As we all know, the Saints made the difficult decision to move on from Thomas Morstead this offseason. This was part of their cap-saving quest early in the offseason and the move made sense, as Morstead wasn’t the same guy he had been for most of his career.
With that said, here are the kickers, punters, and long snappers listed on the Saints’ official roster:
- Nolan Cooney, P
- Blake Gillikin, P
- Wil Lutz, K
- Zach Wood, LS
The Saints special teams unit is mostly set for the 2021 season.
While there will be a competition as to who the punter will be in 2021, Gillikin appears to have the edge. The Saints kept him on the roster last year despite him being injured and likely did so because they figured they’d be moving on from Morstead after the 2020 season.
Gillikin punted at Penn State for four years and averaged 43 yards throughout his career with the Nittany Lions. The Saints signed him as a UDFA following the 2020 NFL Draft and he was injured in September, which landed him on the IR.
Cooney, the other punter in this equation, punted at Syracuse and also joined the Saints as a UDFA. He averaged 44.8 yards during the 2020 season. He’ll have an uphill battle against Gillikin, but an impressive camp and preseason could land Cooney the job.
Lutz returns for his sixth season as the Saints kicker. He joined New Orleans in 2016 and despite coming off the worst season of his career, Saints fans have faith in Lutz and feel that he can turn it around. The former Georgia State kicker had a field goal percentage of 82.1 last year, which was the worst of his career but, with that said, he had the best extra point percentage of his career with 98.3 (he missed just one extra point in 2020).
Wood is the unquestioned long snapper and there isn’t much else that needs to be said about that. Long snappers are only really noticed when they screw up, which could honestly be said for the entire special teams unit.
The Saints hope that their special teams unit can continue to thrive even without Thomas Morstead this season. Can Blake Gillikin be the next reliable punter in the Big Easy?