New Orleans Saints Rumors & News

Adrian Peterson Still Finding Fit With Saints

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is taking some time off as he recovers from eye surgery, but the 60-year-old vowed that he’d be back before long.

“I’ll be back shortly. One eye or two, it really doesn’t matter. I’m going to be back,” Zimmer said (via Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune). “So we can put the retiring thing or whatever to bed quickly.”

The coach revealed that there haven’t been any setbacks since he underwent surgery earlier this month, and he indicated that a recent examination revealed that everything was progressing positvely. Zimmer is ultimately hoping to be back on the sideline in early June for organized team activities.

“I miss being in the meetings with players and I especially miss being out on the field, where I can give immediate feedback on technique and things like that,” he said.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFC…

  • During the NFL Draft, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan called tight end Vance McDonald to update him on potential trade talks. The 26-year-old offensive weapon appreciated his coach’s willingness to be completely transparent about the rumors. “Basically, it’s just like any other team in the NFL would do,” McDonald told Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “If you’re a 2-14 team, obviously, there are a lot of things you can improve on, a lot of spots that need to be filled. There are a lot of things you need to improve upon in the offseason. So if teams are going to call and inquire about you, then obviously the next step is to … call around to every other team…So that’s exactly what happened to me. It isn’t like they don’t want me here. There was never a lack of communication on any level.” McDonald finished last season with career-highs in receiving yards (391) and touchdowns (four).
  • Running back Adrian Peterson is still trying to figure out his fit with the Saints, but his teammates are confident that his presence will result in one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. “I think he’s looking forward to that,” said fullback John Kuhn (via Brett Martel of the Associated Press). “Not to put words in his mouth, but everybody in here, especially on the offensive side, realizes that the more weapons that we have, the more explosive we can be.”
  • Cardinals wideout Jaron Brown was expected to play a significant role during the 2016 season, but a torn ACL ended his campaign prematurely. Despite the injury, the organization still decided to sign the former undrafted free agent to an extension. Now, Brown is hoping to repay the Cardinals for their good will gesture. “That meant a lot,” Brown told Kent Somers of AZCentral.com. “You don’t see that too many times, and it kind of shows that faith and loyalty in me to get back to where I was. It was good for both sides.”

Saints OT Zach Strief Restructures Contract

The Saints have restructured the contract of offensive tackle Zach Strief, according to Nick Underhill of the Advocate (all Twitter links).Zach Strief (Vertical)

Originally scheduled to earn a base salary of $1MM in 2017, Strief will now bring in a $1.7MM base salary next season, per Underhill. Meanwhile, Strief’s per-game active roster bonuses will increase from $1.4 to $1.7MM. While none of those figures are guaranteed, the moves do lift Strief’s cap charge by $1MM to $6.1MM.

The Saints appear to be simply rewarding Strief for a solid 2016 season, as the reworking of his contract doesn’t contain any financial incentives for the club. Last year, the 33-year-old Strief played more than 97% of the Saints’ offensive snaps and posted perhaps the best campaign of his career. Strief graded as the No. 12 overall tackle in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, which gave him excellent marks in the run and pass game.

Currently, Strief is signed through the 2018 season. The Saints, for their part, seem to have found a ready-made long-term replacement for Strief by selecting Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with the final pick of the first round in last month’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Teams Take On Int’l Players

The NFL announced that the teams of the NFC South will be carrying an additional overseas player on their practice squads during the upcoming season. This is part of the league’s flagship International Player Pathway program.

Now, the Falcons, Panthers, Saints, and Buccaneers will all be operating with an 11-man practice squad while the rest of the league has ten. However, they don’t necessarily have an advantage over other clubs because these additional overseas players cannot be activated during the season.

Here is a look at the players who will be joining each taxi squad:

  • Falcons: Alex Gray, TE – Gray, a former rugby star, is the first English rugby union professional to quit the sport to pursue American football. The 26-year-old was named the England Sevens player of the year in 2015. He not to be confused with the undrafted Appalachian State safety of the same name who joined the Bucs’ 90-man roster.
  • Panthers: Efe Obada, DE – Obada, who grew up in the Netherlands and England, was on the Cowboys’ practice squad in 2010. Prior to the 2016 season, he also had brief stints with the Chiefs and Falcons.
  • Saints: Alex Jenkins, DE – Jenkins was born and raised in England but actually has a background in American football. Back home, he played for the Bath City Academy and for the Bristol Aztecs before earning a spot on the Great Britain youth team. He played his college ball in San Antonio, Texas at the University of the Incarnate Word. He had 3.5 sacks in his senior year.
  • Buccaneers: Eric Nzeocha, LB – Nzeocha is now the second German-born player to join up with the Bucs in franchise history. German safety Claudius Osei spent the 2005 campaign on Tampa Bay’s taxi squad as part of a similar program. Nzeocha’s brother Mark is a linebacker for the Cowboys.

Reggie Bush Still Wants To Play

Reggie Bush isn’t done yet. At least, he hopes he isn’t. The former No. 2 overall pick says that he intends to play in 2017. 

That’s my plan,” Bush said (via NFL.com). “Going into year 12, I still feel like I have a lot left to prove, a lot left to give this game before I’m done. I don’t want to put a number on how many years I have left. I think once you get past year 10, you just gotta take it one year at a time and go from there. I’m still excited, still looking forward to playing football again this season, still staying in shape, still working out. I plan to be somewhere in September.”

Bush, 32, appeared in 13 games for the Bills last year, but he didn’t do a whole lot. He finished out the season with seven catches for 90 yards plus 12 carries for negative three yards and one rushing touchdown. Bush doesn’t have anyone beating down his door after that performance, but he says that he has “spoken to a few teams.”

For what it’s worth, Bush understands that he won’t be receiving the kind of lucrative offers that he was getting as a free agent prior to the 2013 season.

I think it depends. If you’re in it for the money, then it’s possible,” Bush said. “But I started playing football when I was eight years old, and it’s always been a strong passion, and it’s always been a passion that’s never gonna leave. For me at this point, I’ve made plenty of money and it’s not about the money for me. I want to get a chance to go out there on the football field and just continue to play the sport that I love to play. I’m so passionate about football and I love it, and I’m not ready to hang it up yet. I want to make sure I exhaust everything before I hang it up so I don’t have any regrets once I do hang it up.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/22/17

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • Former Chargers sixth-round pick Tourek Williams signed with the Chiefs, who cut Victor Ochi in a Monday exchange of linebackers. Williams is entering his fifth season after playing four with the Chargers. Williams started in six games as a rookie and played in 16 during the 2014 and ’16 campaigns. He saw a broken foot end his 2015 slate after three games.
  • The Saints signed tackle Bryce Harris and waived defensive back Forrest Hightower. Harris played three seasons, 2012-14, with the Saints before bouncing around the league. He failed to make New Orleans’ 53-man roster out of training camp in 2015 but returns nearly two years later. The former UDFA out of Fresno State has four career starts on his resume, each with New Orleans.
  • The Rams signed defensive tackles Omarius Bryant and A.J. Jefferson while waiving offensive lineman Kwayde Miller. Meanwhile, defensive back Dravious Wright left the team. Wright caught on with the Rams as a UDFA last month. Jefferson is a UDFA out of Mississippi State. The Ravens cut Bryant, who played at Western Kentucky.
  • The Patriots re-signed wide receiver DeAndrew White, who spent the 2016 season on the team’s practice squad. White was originally a 49ers UDFA addition in 2015. He saw action in four games with San Francisco that season as a return man.

Panthers, Saints Eyeing Marvin Bracy

Both the Panthers and Saints are interested in Olympic sprinter Marvin Bracy as a wide receiver prospect, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).Marvin Bracy (Vertical)

Bracy, 23, was a 100-meter Olympian at the Rio Games and is a former United States 60-meter dash champion. He spent a year on the Florida State football team as a redshirt before leaving the program to focus on track. As such, Bracy hasn’t played football since 2012, although he was an All-American in high school.

At 5’9″, Bracy doesn’t offer elite size, but he’s considered a “great raw talent” as a wideout, per Cole. Currently dealing with a groin injury, Bracy has already tried out for the Panthers at their rookie minicamp earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Opinion: Saints Should Not Extend Kenny Vaccaro

  • David Grunfeld of the Times-Picayune believes the Saints should let Kenny Vaccaro play out the 2017 season, his contract year, and then determine whether or not to give him a big-money deal or put the franchise tag on him in advance of free agency next offseason. The club has two former second-rounders, Marcus Williams and Vonn Bell, who could theoretically replace much of Vaccaro’s production at a fraction of the cost.

Saints Rookie Justin Thomas Continues To Change Positions

  • Saints undrafted rookie Justin Thomas served as the starting quarterback for Georgia Tech throughout his college career, but he’s been forced to make a position change in the NFL. Thomas originally auditioned for the Saints as a defensive back, but the team switched him to wideout at the beginning of the multi-day tryout, and the rookie ultimately earned a spot on the team. Predictably, Thomas would be willing to play any position if it meant he’d stick around for the regular season. “Of course, I would like to play quarterback, but at the same time, I’m a realist,” Thomas told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “I didn’t want to lessen my opportunities, so I was open to anything.”

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Packers, Saints Calling On C Cody Wallace

The Packers and Saints are among the teams inquiring on former Steelers center Cody Wallace, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Wallace tells Fowler that he’s still rehabbing his knee injury, so it might be a little while before we see him sign.
Cody Wallace

[RELATED: Steelers Release TE Ladarius Green]

Wallace missed the entire 2016 season thanks to a complicated knee injury. Initially, he was believed to have hyperextended his bad knee. Later, it was found that he also suffered bone bruising. When the injury did not respond to treatment, the Steelers officially placed him on IR in November.

The former-fourth rounder has bounced around a bit during his nine-year career having also spent time with the 49ers, Lions, Jets, Texans, and Buccaneers. In 2015, he got a big opportunity in Pittsburgh when he started all 16 games in place of Maurkice Pouncey. Wallace was the Steelers’ fifth-lowest graded center in 2015, but he could still be a quality reserve for the Packers, Saints, or another team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Justin Thomas Could Play DB Or WR

  • The Saints signed former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas on Monday, but Thomas probably won’t be under center in New Orleans, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Thomas was listed as a defensive back on the Saints’ roster, and could also play wide receiver, per Triplett. At the Senior Bowl, Thomas played defensive back and kick returner, and worked out as a defensive back, wideout, return man, and quarterback at his Pro Day. Thomas, who stands 5’9″, 185 pounds, ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 second range, so he clearly has the speed required to make a position change.