New Orleans Saints Make Bold Moves, Finalize 53-Man Roster for 2023 Season
In a series of surprising roster moves, the New Orleans Saints have finalized their 53-man roster for the 2023 season, with the decisions signaling a significant shift in the team's direction.
Nine rookies, including all seven of the team’s draft picks and two undrafted free agents, have found a spot on the active roster. The two standout undrafted free agents are kicker Blake Grupe and punter Lou Hedley. This shift to younger talent has significantly reduced the average age of the roster, dropping from 28.1 years in 2022 to 26.9 this year.
One of the most notable transactions saw veteran kicker Wil Lutz, who had been with the Saints for seven seasons, traded to the Denver Broncos. Lutz's departure was reportedly based on performance, especially after he struggled last season with a 74.2% field goal percentage.
Grupe, the rookie kicker, now steps into the void left by Lutz. Despite being relatively lightweight at 156 pounds, Grupe's impressive power was well documented throughout training camp as he consistently made field goals from beyond 50 yards.
Another unexpected move was the release of slot cornerback Bradley Roby, who had been acquired for a third-round pick in 2021. The spotlight now turns to second-year corner Alontae Taylor, who will assume the starting nickel role for the season. Roby's release became feasible due to the impressive performances of reserve defensive backs Ugo Amadi and Isaac Yiadom.
Veteran defender Jaylon Smith, who had a noticeable impact in two preseason matches, was also among the notable cuts. However, Saints' head coach Dennis Allen hinted that there could be a possibility of bringing him back.
Tight end Jimmy Graham secured his place on the roster, making a comeback after sitting out the entire last season. Meanwhile, star running back Alvin Kamara began serving his three-game suspension and won't count against the roster limit for its duration.
NOLA.com columnist Jeff Duncan believes these moves reflect the confidence that coach Dennis Allen and the Saints' management have in their decision-making. Duncan stated, "I think this team feels really good about itself. They make these moves because they feel confident in where they're going and how good they are, especially in their starting 22."
While the Saints' roster is now compliant with the NFL’s mandate, Allen mentioned the team isn't done assessing its composition. The team plans to scrutinize moves made across the league for potential additions that could benefit the Saints.
The New Orleans Saints will kick off their season against the Tennessee Titans on September 10, with the fresh roster likely generating plenty of interest among fans and analysts—both local and national.
One thing is for sure, Saints football is almost here and the Who Dat Nation is ready for action.