The New Orleans Saints in the next few months ahead are going to have to make some really tough decisions with regard to just how the final roster of this year's final 53-man roster is going to look, as they approach the start of the 2017 season.
Without any doubts whatsoever, you can bet that there will be some rather intense competition out at the team's Practice Facility out on Airline Drive in Metairie (suburban New Orleans), as a handful of Saints players seek to make their mark and enhance the success of their NFL careers.
However, also in the mix will be a handful of players whom for one reason or another will find themselves in the proverbial "battle of their lives", as they seek to keep their jobs and remain with the franchise for at least for this year anyway.
What that means is that many of the team's final roster cuts could likely be names of a few veteran players that we've become very familiar with in recent years; or perhaps even a few of them who are also considered (or perceived to be) "fan favorites".
This afternoon, we're taking a quick at a few of those names, as we give you 5 Saints players whom we believe will not be around on the night of Monday, September 11th at Minnesota -- when the Saints open the 2017 regular season against the Vikings.
Starting with this popular young man among Saints fans.......
JACK ALLEN, CENTER
The Saints signed Allen as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State last year after his dynamic career with the Spartans; where he was a 2-time first-team All American and 2-time Remington Trophy (honoring the nation's best center) finalist.
Allen ended up on the Practice Squad at the end of the 2016 Pre-Season and then spent half of his rookie year there until Week #9 -- which was when he then was promoted to the 53-man roster, but failed to get any playing time.
With the recent announcement that starter Max Unger would be out until the start of the regular season, the Saints had an opportunity to give Allen more playing time but deferred to back-up veteran center Josh LeRiebus instead.
With the Saints only expected to keep 2 centers on the final roster and with veteran guard Senio Kelemete able to play center when needed, it would seem that Allen could find himself on the chopping block come late August.
KEN CRAWLEY, CORNERBACK
After a phenomenal performance last year in Training Camp and the Pre-Season, undrafted free agent and former University of Colorado CB Ken Crawley essentially got "thrown to the wolves" when he suddenly (but unexpectedly) found himself as a starter after a slew of injuries at the cornerback position forced him into immediate action.
In all during his 2016 rookie season, Crawley notched 40 tackles, 8 PBU's (passes defended), 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. But Crawley struggled at times as expected and more often than not found himself on the receiving end of several big plays by an opponent's top WR who exploited his inexperience.
Coming into this year, with all of the injured CB's now returning from injuries, the Saints now find themselves with an over abundance of CB's on the roster.
With the team only expected to keep a total of 5 CB's on the Final Roster, it's hard to envision Crawley beating out Delvin Breaux, Marshon Lattimore, P.J. Williams. Sterling Moore, and this year's red-hot UDFA sensation Arthur Maulet for one of those spots.
TRAVARIS CADET, RUNNING BACK
Like a bad weed growing in your yard that's become completely immune to pesticide, you just can't seem to "kill off" veteran Saints running back Travaris Cadet; whom always seems in danger of being cut from the final 53-man roster every season only to still make it anyway.
This year however, could finally be the year that his luck begins to run out.
One of the reasons why Cadet has managed to survive all of this time is because of his ability to serve as a dual threat for New Orleans as both the designated "scat back" in the Saints offense as well as a kick returner on special teams.
But with the selection of dynamic University of Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara in the 3rd Round of the recent 2017 NFL Draft to be the team's brand new designated "scat back"; coupled with free agent veteran WR Ted Ginn, Jr.'s taking over the duties as both kick and punt returner, Cadet is likely to find himself "on the outside looking in" when the final roster cuts are announced in August.
OBUM GWACHAM, DEFENSIVE END
Gwacham, who was originally drafted by the Seahawks in the 6th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, was signed by the Saints a day after the Seattle released him just before the start of the 2015 NFL season.
Gwacham eventually played in nine games for the Saints in that 2015 season and tallied 2.5 sacks, which was still good enough for 5th-best on the team.
Last season however was a different story, as Gwacham was inactive on Game Days for the first few weeks until he was activated in Week # in time for the Monday night matchup against Atlanta --- where he promptly suffered a severely sprained ankle and found himself placed on injured reserve 2 days later; thus ending his 2016 season before it ever really got started.
With the Saints only expected to keep 4 defensive ends on the 53-man roster, Gwacham at this point seems to be a longshot at bypassing Cam Jordan, Alex Okafor, Hau'oli Kikaha, and rookie Trey Hendrickson for the 4th and final spot at the DE position.
GARRETT GRAYSON, QUARTERBACK
Once viewed as the possible "heir apparent" to Drew Brees as the next starting Saints QB of the future, Grayson has turned out to be a HUGE disappointment.
The Saints took Grayson in the 3rd Round of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Colorado State, but it's stating it mildly to say that he has been anything less than impressive --- and his recent rough showing during team drills at Mini-Camp didn't do much to help his cause.
Further complicating matters now for Grayson: the Saints reunited with former veteran Chase Daniel to assume the #2 CB role in Free Agency, and then just recently added former New York Giants back-up QB and 4th Round pick Ryan Nassib to presumably do battle with Grayson for the #3 QB spot.
With the Saints coaching staff said to be "very high" on Nassib's potential, Grayson likely will find himself faced with the prospect of having to finally jump-start his NFL career --- otherwise, it appears that he'll have to find an opportunity to continue it somewhere else besides New Orleans.......