The Saints and Bengals have been given roster exemptions for wide receiver Willie Snead and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, respectively, as they return from suspension, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Both exemptions expire on Thursday, so New Orleans and Cincinnati will each need to clear a roster spot by that time.
Snead, 24, was suspended three games following an offseason DUI arrest. A former undrafted free agent, Snead has been a revelation for the Saints since entering the league out of Ball State in 2015. In two seasons in New Orleans, Snead has averaged 70 receptions for 940 yards and four touchdowns. An exclusive rights free agent in 2017, Snead could potentially be in line for a new contract.
New Orleans is 1-2 after a win against the division rival Panthers on Sunday, but the club’s problems haven’t come on offense. Instead, it’s the Saints’ defense (31st in DVOA heading into Week 3) that’s been the team’s Achilles heel. However, Snead will give New Orleans another dimension on offense as the team seeks to replace the production void left by Brandin Cooks, who was traded to the Patriots in the spring.
Burfict, meanwhile, was originally handed a five-game ban for an illegal preseason hit on Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, but that suspension was originally reduced to just three contests. In the meantime, the Bengals extended Burfict through the 2020 campaign on a three-year, $33.234MM deal. However, the specifics of that contract aren’t nearly as impressive as initial reports suggested.
Like Snead with the Saints, Burfict’s return won’t help the Bengals’ true woes, which have mostly occurred on the offensive side of the ball. But Burfict — whom Pro Football Focus graded as the NFL’s No. 6 linebacker a season ago — will give Cincinnati another playmaker on defense, and allow the club to push Vincent Rey back into a reserve role.
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