Saints Rumors

RB David Johnson Retires

David Johnson was out of the NFL in 2023, and he will not attempt a return this coming season. The veteran running back announced his retirement on Sunday.

Johnson spent his first five seasons with the Cardinals, enjoying his most productive campaigns in the desert. His career was highlighted by the 2016 season in which he led the league in offensive touches (373), scrimmage yards (2,118) and total touchdowns (20). Those figures helped him earn Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors for the first and only time during his NFL tenure.

The Northern Iowa product suffered a wrist injury the following season, and it limited him to just one contest. Johnson bounced back in 2018, though, producing 1,386 total yards and again scoring double-digit total touchdowns. After seeing a dip in playing time during his final Cardinals campaign, the former third-rounder was included in the DeAndre Hopkins trade. That set up a two-year Texans stint.

Johnson served as a full-time starter in 2020, but he took on a rotational role the following year. Upon the expiration of his Houston pact, he had a lengthy stay on the open market which ultimately ended in a Saints practice squad agreement. Johnson played five games with New Orleans in 2022, but he has not found a deal since. Rather than pursuing a tryout with teams eyeing veteran backfield depth this summer, he will hang up his cleats.

The 32-year-old will end his career with 92 regular season games to his name. Having spent much of his career on rebuilding teams, his only two playoff contests came during his rookie season. Thanks in large part to his 2018 Cardinals extension, Johnson amassed roughly $38.6MM in career earnings.

“I’m looking forward to my next career path in life,” his announcement reads in part. “I don’t know exactly what that will be, but I hope it will bring me the same passion, excitement, and love as football did!” 

Saints’ Taliese Fuaga Working At LT

The Saints, as expected, were among the teams which exited Day 1 of the 2024 draft with an offensive tackle. New Orleans added Taliese Fuaga with the No. 14 selection, and he is in position to see immediate playing time.

Fuaga logged 25 starts during his time at Oregon State, each of which were at right tackle. That could set him up to play that position with New Orleans depending on the health status of Ryan Ramczyk. The latter is dealing with a knee issue which has his 2024 availability in doubt, and missing time would pave the way for Fuaga (who has inked his rookie deal) to log first-team duties as a rookie.

The Saints face questions along the blindside as well, however. 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning was benched last season, and veteran James Hurst retired in April. That left the team without an experienced left tackle option, as was the case when Andrus Peat (who, like Hurst, has spent time at both guard and tackle) signed with the Raiders. To little surprise, then, Fuaga has taken left tackle snaps during Saints offseason workouts.

“Starting off, we’re primarily going to work him on the left side,” head coach Dennis Allen confirmed (via NOLA.com’s Matthew Paras). “Then we’ll evaluate it as it goes. We haven’t made any decisions in terms of concrete decision, but yet, that’s where we’re going to start him right now… We’ll see how he does at this camp and then re-evaluate him after this camp.”

Penning has made six starts and 23 appearances to date, but his struggles this season (during which he ranked 65th out of 81 qualifying tackles in terms of PFF grade) forced the team to look elsewhere for left tackle responsibilities. The Northern Iowa product is under contract for two more years – or three, if the team exercises his fifth-year option next offseason. Doing so would be unlikely at this point, and a strong showing from Fuaga on the left side would not help Penning’s chances of remaining in the Saints’ long-term plans.

New Orleans also has free agent addition Oli Udoh as a left tackle option. The former Viking has 18 starts to his name, having seen time on the blindside as well as right guard. How he performs – along with the status of Ramczyk – will have an effect on Fuaga’s situation. It will be interesting to see how the latter fares at left tackle over the course of the offseason as the Saints try to assemble an effective, new-look offensive front.

Saints Showed Interest In Marquez Valdes-Scantling; Latest On WR’s Bills Signing

Marquez Valdes-Scantling trudged through an inconsistent 2023 season, albeit one that included pivotal contributions in the playoffs. But the two-time Super Bowl champion attracted a decent market in the weeks following the draft.

Post-draft signings not affecting teams’ 2025 compensatory formula played into the MVS chase, which featured a few teams. Although the Bills won out for the two-year Chiefs starter, the Chargers also arranged a visit. The Saints were part of this pursuit as well, according to Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz.

New Orleans cut the cord on Michael Thomas this offseason, shedding the uniquely constructed contract as a post-June 1 cut. The team did add Cedrick Wilson Jr. in free agency, but the second-generation NFL wideout is coming off a down Dolphins tenure. While the Saints have first-rounder Chris Olave entrenched as their top target and found a gem in UDFA Rashid Shaheed, more complementary help would make sense going into Dennis Allen‘s third year as head coach.

The Saints used a fifth-round pick on Pittsburgh’s Bub Means and also added Equanimeous St. Brown as a flier-type free agent. Sixth-round pick A.T. Perry showed promise as a rookie, averaging 20.5 yards per catch (12 receptions, 246 yards, four touchdowns). The team also has receiving tight end Juwan Johnson and enduring jack of all trades Taysom Hill to help Derek Carr in his second New Orleans season. With the market thinning following the signings of MVS, Odell Beckham Jr., DJ Chark and Zay Jones, the Saints may be prepared to go with their current receiving cast.

Valdes-Scantling’s Bills deal is worth up to $4.25MM. With the base value assuredly checking in lower, it is worth wondering if the Saints made an offer. MVS visited the Bills this week, and ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler adds the six-year veteran had dinner at Josh Allen‘s house during his Buffalo trek. This meeting helped convince the former Packers fifth-round pick to join a crowded but uncertain Bills receiving corps.

The Bills let Gabe Davis defect to the Jaguars in March and, despite incurring a non-quarterback record $31MM in dead money, the team traded Stefon Diggs to the Texans in April. The team used a second-round pick on Florida State’s Keon Coleman. The 6-foot-4 rookie will be expected to play a key role on a team flooded with midlevel veterans. In addition to Valdes-Scantling, the Bills have signed Curtis Samuel, Chase Claypool, Mack Hollins and KJ Hamler. This cast’s makeup points to MVS carving out a role in a group that will also need 2022 draftee Khalil Shakir to continue an upward trajectory.

MVS joined the likes of Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore in struggling for an unreliable (beyond Rashee Rice) Chiefs receiving corps last season. Formerly attached to a three-year, $30MM deal, the 6-4 target struggled down the stretch in 2022 as well. The inconsistent deep threat still totaled 687 receiving yards in his Kansas City debut and produced a six-catch, 116-yard performance in the ’22 AFC title game — with the other prominent Chiefs wideouts unavailable due to injury — to help the hosts fend off the Bengals despite Patrick Mahomes limited with a high ankle sprain.

Committing a brutal drop in a narrow loss to the Eagles, Valdes-Scantling finished the regular season with just 315 yards. But he came up big against the Bills (two catches, 62 yards) and caught a conference-clinching lob from Mahomes against the Ravens before scoring a touchdown against the 49ers. The Bills will hope their newest addition can at least commandeer an auxiliary role within their post-Diggs WR crew.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/13/24

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from 49ers): DL Spencer Waege
  • Placed on reserve/retired list: OL Trente Jones

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Signed: DL Chris Collins

Miami Dolphins

  • Signed: OL Ireland Brown, CB Jason Maitre

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

  • Signed: RB Terrell Jennings, G Ryan Johnson, LB Jay Person, DE Jotham Russell
  • Waived: RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

  • Signed: DL Elijah Chatman
  • Waived: OLB Jeremiah Martin

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Waived: OL Kellen Diesch

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Shakel Brown

Seattle Seahawks

  • Signed: DE Nathan Pickering, LB Devin Richardson

Tennessee Titans

NFL Workouts: Giants, Bears, Titans, Grant

With NFL rookie minicamps coming to a close, we can take a look at some of the notable names that were invited for veteran tryouts during the rookies’ introduction to the NFL. The Giants were one of the teams with multiple veteran free agents in attendance, as noted by Pat Leonard of NY Daily News.

Two outside linebackers were auditioned this week in New York. Myjai Sanders worked out with the team after playing sparingly in seven games for the Texans last year. A former third-round pick for the Cardinals, Sanders had three sacks as a rookie but, after falling down the depth chart, found himself being auctioned off as a trade candidate before ultimately getting waived.

The other was Shaka Toney, a former seventh-round pick for the Commanders who was waived just before the draft. He’s only played major snaps in one game over his two years, his lone start out of 26 games played, but totes 1.5 sacks on his record.

The third veteran in attendance was wide receiver Jared Bernhardt.

Here are a few other notable minicamp auditions that took place around the league:

  • The Bears also hosted three veterans, even eventually signing tight end Tommy Sweeney. Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic reports that cornerback Parry Nickerson and wide receiver Freddie Swain were the other two veterans in attendance this week. Nickerson entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 for the Jets. Since then, he’s bounced around with one season each at in Jacksonville, Green Bay, Minnesota, and, most recently, Miami. Swain had a decent start to his career after two seasons in Seattle but didn’t play in 2023 after appearing in only four games in 2022 between time in Miami and Denver.
  • The Titans were another team to host multiple notable veteran names, namely cornerback William Jackson III and pass rusher Shane Ray, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 and Turron Davenport of ESPN. After playing out a rookie contract in Cincinnati, Jackson earned a three-year, $40.5MM contract with the Commanders but requested a trade that landed him with the Steelers a year in a half into the deal, though he never got to play for them. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 5 of 2022. Ray’s absence from the NFL has been even longer. A first-round pick for the Broncos in 2015, Ray hasn’t played in the league since 2018. He joined the Bills last offseason, reuniting with his former Denver teammate Von Miller, but he was cut before the regular season.
  • After attending the Eagles’ rookie minicamp, wide receiver and return specialist Jakeem Grant also worked out for the Saints at their rookie minicamp, per Mike Triplett of NewOrleans.Football. Grant hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since the 2021 season as he’s rehabilitated a torn Achilles and a ruptured patella tendon, but the last time he played, he earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.
  • Lastly, the Dolphins hosted pass rusher Aaron Lynch for a tryout, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Lynch showed promise after tallying 12.5 sacks in his first two seasons with the 49ers but never managed more than three in a season over the next five years. He hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since 2020.

Saints To Sign OL Lucas Patrick

New Orleans’ offensive line has seen a number of changes this offseason, but the team is set to make an addition up front. The Saints will sign veteran Lucas Patrick on Monday, per his agents (via Nick Underhill of New Orleans.Football).

Patrick spent his first five seasons in Green Bay before making the intra-divisional move to the Bears in 2022. Over the past two years, the 30-year-old has logged 20 starts in 23 appearances. That includes 15 starts in 16 games in 2023, matching Patrick’s largest single-season workload in his career.

The former UDFA saw time at both guard spots in 2022, but last season he served exclusively at the center position. Patrick’s PFF evaluation was in line with his previous campaigns in terms of run blocking, but his pass protection was rated much poorer. That led to an overall grade of just 50.5, something which helps explain how he remained on the open market well after the draft.

Chicago has invested up front during the past two years, and the team’s moves in 2023 make it little surprise Patrick will not be returning. The Duke alum met with the Seahawks in April, making him one of several veteran interior O-linemen the team checked in on. Instead of heading to the Emerald City, though, Patrick will join a Saints team which is in need of starting-caliber options at multiple spots.

The left tackle spot is a question mark with Trevor Penning struggling early on in his career (although 2024 first-rounder Taliese Fuaga could step in on the blindside as a rookie). Longtime RT starter Ryan Ramczyk faces an uncertain future based on his knee issues. Andrus Peat was an option at both tackle spots while representing a guard option, but he recently signed with the Raiders. Patrick will look to at least replace Peat’s potential as a guard starter.

New Orleans has Erik McCoy on the books through 2027, so he is positioned to continue serving as the team’s center starter. The Saints also have guard Cesar Ruiz attached to a lucrative deal. Patrick could compete with offseason addition Shane Lemieux for a starting position at the opposite guard spot or provide the team with a veteran backup across the three interior positions.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/9/24

As a number of teams prepare for rookie minicamps this weekend, Thursday has represented a signing day of sorts for rookie draftees. Here is the latest batch of mid- and late-rounders to sign their four-year rookie deals:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

  • T Travis Clayton (seventh round, England)

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

New Orleans Saints

  • QB Spencer Rattler (fifth round, South Carolina)
  • WR Bub Means (fifth round, Pittsburgh)
  • LB Jaylan Ford (fifth round, Texas)
  • DT Khristian Boyd (sixth round, Northern Iowa)
  • T Josiah Ezirim (seventh round, Eastern Kentucky)

New York Giants

Tennessee Titans

Saints Sign Round 1 T Taliese Fuaga

Seeing their tackle situation create a dire need entering the draft, the Saints benefited by that deficiency forming this year. This draft produced one of the highest-regarded tackle crops in years, and New Orleans indeed addressed the position in Round 1.

The player the Saints chose, Taliese Fuaga, is now under contract. The Saints signed the Oregon State alum Thursday. This will lock in Fuaga through the 2027 season, with a fifth-year option included that would cover the 2028 campaign. Fuaga’s four-year deal is fully guaranteed. Fuaga is the first Saints draftee to sign this year.

Having done well to fortify their O-line under Sean Payton, the Saints saw their early-2020s plan go sideways when 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning struggled early. The Saints have been unable to count on Penning, due to injury and underwhelming play, leading to early-season changes at the position last year. Their primary left tackle in 2023 — longtime guard Andrus Peat — signed with the Raiders earlier this week. James Hurst, the team’s regular LT from 2021-22 and LG starter last year, retired just before the draft. New Orleans’ All-Pro right tackle, has hit a career crossroads thanks to a nagging knee issue. Ramczyk is uncertain to play in 2024.

This year’s tackle class played into the Saints’ hands, with Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL.com big board slotting seven tackles among the top 25 prospects. Fuaga became this draft’s fourth tackle taken, going off the board at No. 14 — after Joe Alt (No. 5), JC Latham (7) and Olu Fashanu (10). While Fashanu is not a lock to start for the Jets in Week 1, the Saints’ situation points to Fuaga being needed immediately.

Ahead of their weekend rookie minicamp, the Saints have not indicated if they view Fuaga as a left tackle or a player who will continue his career on the right side. Oregon State slotted Fuaga as its starting RT from 2022-23; he did not allow a sack in 25 starts at the position. Fuaga earned consensus first-team All-American acclaim last season, establishing himself as a first-round prospect.

Buzz about the Saints eyeing Fuaga emerged weeks before the draft, and New Orleans finished off this year’s run of offensive prospects. The Colts snapped that record-setting streak by choosing Laiatu Latu at No. 15. The Saints will bet on Fuaga filling their tackle need, though it will be interesting to see how New Orleans’ line looks come Week 1. As of now, only the positions of two starters — center Erik McCoy and right guard Cesar Ruiz — are known.

Saints Waive QB Kellen Mond, OL Tommy Kraemer

The Saints have started culling the roster a bit as the ebb and flow of roster spots continues in the wake of the NFL Draft. Today’s adjustments came with the waivings of backup quarterback Kellen Mond and backup lineman Tommy Kraemer, per ESPN’s Field Yates.

Mond was a third-round selection for the Vikings out of Texas A&M. He was the seventh passer taken in a draft that led off with a franchise QB in Trevor Lawrence but otherwise stumbled out of the gates with Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask, and Mond following. As the third-string passer in Minnesota as a rookie behind Kirk Cousins and Sean Mannion, Mond made one appearance in garbage time during a late-season loss to the Packers, completing two of three passes for five yards. He has failed to appear in an NFL game since, spending time on rosters or practice squads for the Browns, the Colts, and, most recently, the Saints since then.

Kraemer was an undrafted lineman out of Notre Dame in 2021, initially signing with the Lions. He started the year on the practice squad in Detroit but would eventually get promoted to the active roster and start three of nine game appearances as a rookie. Thanks to a back injury, Kraemer didn’t end up seeing the field at all in 2022, and he signed with the Saints during camp last year. He went back and forth from the practice squad to the active roster in 2023, appearing in four games for the Saints, mostly playing on special teams.

Mond became superfluous with fifth-round rookie Spencer Rattler joining last year’s fourth-round pick Jake Haener on the depth chart behind starter Derek Carr. The team also has utility man Taysom Hill still under contract, as well. Likewise, the team’s recent additions of depth linemen like Shane Lemieux, Justin Herron, and Oli Udoh meant less space on the roster for Kraemer.

2024 NFL General Manager Search Tracker

With the Commanders making a hire, four teams remain in search of general managers. This includes the Patriots, who have moved on from HC/de facto GM Bill Belichick. If other teams decide to make GM changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown of where searches stand:

Updated 5-8-24 (4:35pm CT)

Carolina Panthers

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

New England Patriots

Washington Commanders