Saints: Juwan Johnson has officially passed Adam Trautman on TE depth chart
By Kristen Wong
The New Orleans Saints’ tight end battle has just revealed a winner. Adam Trautman is no longer their No. 1 tight end — Juwan Johnson is, or at least he should be.
We’re not saying Johnson has been an incredible tight end this season by any stretch. Through three games, the second-year Saint has been only average with four catches for 44 yards in three games. That kind of production wouldn’t break into most NFL teams’ starting tight end positions.
But all Johnson has had to do is play better than Trautman, and he has.
After nabbing a touchdown against the New York Giants in Week 4, Johnson now boasts three scores, which is three more than his TE rival.
His touchdowns aren’t easy red zone catches either. Johnson caught this one in the air flanked by two Giants’ defenders:
Compared to Johnson’s production, Trautman has contributed absolutely nothing to the Saints’ offense in 2021.
New Orleans Saints: Juwan Johnson has emerged as TE1 on depth chart
He’s always been a good blocker, but after Jared Cook’s departure, New Orleans expected, needed him to make a bigger impact in the passing game. Michael Thomas is still out, and the Saints didn’t have the greatest WR options heading into the season.
After a rookie year spent in Cook’s shadow, Trautman was supposed to step up into the No. 1 tight end role, but through three games, Trautman’s stats are just….sad.
Trautman has recorded just three catches for 18 yards with a below-50 percent catch percentage.
Not only has he been a non-factor, but he’s been a detriment to the offense, too. In the third quarter of the Giants game, he was called for a holding foul that prevented the Saints from scoring their third touchdown.
We get that the Saints need a solid pass-blocker on the field to execute certain plays, especially those involving Alvin Kamara, but this New Orleans team is still looking to find their passing game in the post-Brees era.
They’re not going to make it far in 2021 unless they continue training Winston to be a consistent passer, and that starts with establishing good chemistry with his tight ends and wide receivers. Juwan Johnson has clearly dazzled with Winston, as has Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and a few others.
Trautman and Winston’s relationship has been one of the iciest on the team, however, and after four weeks of NFL action, it’s clear what Sean Payton needs to do.
Demote Trautman, promote Johnson, and get this Saints’ passing offense up and running again.