The Saints have released cornerback Keenan Lewis, Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate was among those to report (on Twitter). If healthy, Lewis figured to play a prominent role in the Saints’ defensive backfield this year, but injuries have hampered him since last season and he’ll now look for work elsewhere.
Lewis, 30, spent the first four seasons of his career in Pittsburgh, which took him in the third round of the 2009 draft, before signing a five-year, $26.3MM deal with his native New Orleans in March 2013. The ex-Oregon State standout started in all 16 of the Saints’ regular-season games in both 2013 and 2014, something he had also done in his final year with the Steelers, before injuries held him to a mere six contests in 2015.
Lewis’ season didn’t begin until October as a result of hip surgery in September, and it ended when the Saints placed him on injured reserve in November after he underwent a sports hernia procedure. Notably, Lewis underwent hip surgery again in December. All told, he made only one 2015 start – his lowest single-season total since 2011 – and went without an interception. Lewis appeared in 64 straight regular-season games the previous four years and picked off seven passes, including a personal-best four in 2013.
Earlier this month, the Saints activated Lewis from the physically unable to perform list, but his hip problems have persisted. While he declared last week that he wouldn’t need to go on IR, it seems fair to say his inability to regain health contributed heavily to the end of his Saints tenure.
“I would like to thank New Orleans and all my fans,” Lewis wrote in an Instagram post Friday (via Amos Morale III of NOLA.com). “It’s been and [sic] awesome journey. I’m glad I had the opportunity to play for the city I grew up in and love.”
Even though Lewis has departed the Saints’ roster, he’ll continue to be an important factor in their books. He’s due to count $6.35MM in dead money in 2016 and $3.6MM in 2017, per Underhill. On the field, his ouster leaves the club with a cornerback group featuring No. 1 man Delvin Breaux, P.J. Williams, Brian Dixon, Damian Swann and recent veteran pickup Cortland Finnegan, among others.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.