One year ago, wide receiver Kirk Merritt would have been a confident lock on the New Orleans Saints’ final roster. In 2022, though, he’s on the bubble looking in.
Merritt’s string of impressive preseason performances should be enough to earn him a backup wideout role this season, yet nothing is guaranteed.
Signed by NOLA at the start of the year, Merritt is desperate to get his NFL career underway after recording just one catch for 13 yards in two years on the Miami Dolphins.
Merritt most recently shined in the Saints’ win against the Los Angeles Chargers, posting four catches for 32 yards and his first ever touchdown. He’s looked the part of a highly versatile player who can serve as a gadget stud on special teams, backup outside receiver, or even a running back, and it would be a shame if New Orleans ended up letting him go.
Given the stiff competition in the wideout room this year, Merritt is likely up against incumbents Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith. Assuming the Saints roster six wide receivers, those three players will play one final round of musical chairs as it’s more than likely one will be left off the final roster.
NOLA Saints have a tough decision to make in the wide receiver room
Consider the rest of the Saints’ wideout corps: Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, and Jarvis Landry: locks. Deonte Harty: lock due to special teams experience.
NOLA’s Ross Jackson believes Callaway is a lock for the final roster, too, but we’re not so sure based on how well Merritt has been performing this summer.
Whereas Dai’Jean Dixon and Rashid Shaheed are well-positioned to make the Saints’ practice squad, Merritt is the one relatively unproven signing with a real shot at making the roster.
Smith’s injury and history of inconsistent performances could see NOLA drop him in favor of the younger Merritt, and Callaway was arguably outplayed by Merritt this preseason.
We would prefer to see New Orleans keep Merritt and Callaway and cut Smith, though it’s difficult to predict exactly what Saints coaches are valuing in 2022. If it’s pure catching ability, Merritt and Callaway have the clear advantage. If it’s pass-blocking, Smith could get the nudge.
Ultimately, Merritt could be the right player who unfortunately arrived at the wrong time for NOLA.
Which wideout should the Saints keep and which should they cut? Decisions, decisions…