The New Orleans Saints enter the 2023 season as a refreshed team following the acquisition of franchise quarterback Derek Carr. With a number of offensive playmakers, including Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, and Michael Thomas, and a strengthened defensive front New Orleans will be playoff contenders in a weak NFC South.
With training camp well underway and the regular season approaching, the Saints face some tough decisions about which players to keep on the roster. The final cut is August 29th, which means that by then, every team must cull its roster from the current 90-player limit to a final group of 53. Here are some notable — and high-paid — New Orleans Saints players who should be worried about not making the cut.
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Since Drew Brees' retirement in 2021, the Saints have lacked a true identity — an issue stemming from unreliability at the quarterback position. Taysom Hill's undefined hybrid role in the New Orleans offense has been representative of the Saints team as a whole over the last few years. He's operated as something in between a quarterback, tight end, and running back during his time in the Bayou, with his presence in the offense sometimes being awkward and forced.
This is Derek Carr's team now, meaning Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael will have to work even harder to incorporate Taysom Hill into the offense. With a true second running back in Jamaal Williams and great depth at the tight end position following the signing of Foster Moreau, Hill's position in the Saints offense is looking increasingly redundant. Cutting Hill would cost the Saints $23,775,000 in dead cap over the next three seasons but would save the team $20 million toward the salary cap over that period — a price the franchise might be willing to pay.
One of the senior members of the Saints defense, Bradley Roby is coming off an extremely poor season. His Pro Football Focus player grade of 45.4 puts him in the “Poor” category and represents the second consecutive year with a dropoff. The veteran is also in the final year of his deal with the Saints, so cutting him would save the team $3.3 million this season. A 31-year-old, declining nickle corner is the perfect player to cut to save cap space.
Ever since his Pro Bowl season in 2020, kicker Wil Lutz has struggled in New Orleans. His field goal percentage dropped from 88.9% to 82.1% to an abysmal 74.2% last year — second-worst in the league. Lutz was great from distance in 2022, making 4/6 kicks from 50 yards or beyond, including a career-long 60-yarder, but made just half of his attempts between 40 and 49 yards. He also missed a pair of field goals from inside 40 yards.
Lutz faces preseason competition from rookie undrafted free agent Blake Grupe. The Notre Dame grade made 12 of 14 kicks during the school's spring pro day, including strikes from 57 and 61 yards with NFL scouts watching. He only hit 73.7% of his kicks during his single season with the Fighting Irish, but Grupe was a former Sun Belt All-Conference nominee and Lou Groza Award semifinalist (given to the best collegiate placekicker) during his tenure at Arkansas State. Grupe also nailed the game-winning field goal in his preseason debut with the Saints.
Wil Lutz is entering the final season of his contract, and cutting him would save the Saints almost $1.7 million toward the cap. Given the money and his recent struggles, Lutz's starting role in New Orleans is tenuous.