Is it wrong that I enjoy this exercise so much? It's at the very least morbid. But you know, after having watched my favorite team win a Super Bowl just once, this kind of thing is therapeutic these days. It's almost a feeling of "yeah we were awful for so long, but look what it led up to". So after presenting you a collection of the most pathetic players assembled to compile the most inept offense this team can historically put together, I now present you the other side of the ball which I promise only stands to make you more sick to your stomach. The Saints employed a 4-3 in their history more often than a 3-4, so this will be 4-3 format. Enjoy!
DE: Shawn Knight (1987) – Knight was an 11th overall 1st round pick out of BYU in 1987 and came into New Orleans with immense expectations of performing. Knight was one of the most storied failures in the Saints' draft history. He played just one season with the Saints and was so bad and incapable of playing his position that the Saints got rid of him after his rookie year. The times he was plugged into the lineup he was eaten alive. He'd last just 3 years in the league.
DE: Joe Campbell (1977-1980) Campbell was picked 7th overall only to play 5 exceedingly mediocre seasons in the NFL, including 4 with the Saints. He was also a member of the Saints' memorably woeful 1980 squad but couldn't even crack the starting lineup on that team, as he was cut five games into the season for being one of the worst players on one of the worst teams ever. He was a reserve for all of '79 after the Saints gave up trying to make him a starter.
DT: Jonathan Sullivan (2003-2005) – Not only was he picked 6th overall, but the Saints traded two lower 1st round picks to secure this clown. 3 years later they traded him for Bethel Johnson, who provided laughable value. Sullivan was always more committed to a high caloric intake than anything else. In three seasons he totaled 1.5 sacks and received an $8 million signing bonus for his efforts. He also got busted for marijuana possession and could easily be in jail right now.
DT: Ted Gregory (1988) – On Deadspin's top 100 worst NFL players of all time, Gregory came in at #8. He is famous in NFL history for being drafted on bad information in the 1st round by the Denver Broncos. They were expecting a 6'1" nose tackle, but he was 5'9". So they traded him to the Saints for another bust, Shawn Knight, before the end of his very first training camp. Amazingly the Saints got a player out of Knight that was even worse… only the Saints could pull that off. He would be done after that season with his NFL career.
LB: Rick Middleton (1974-1975): Drafted 13th overall in 1974, Rick Middleton was supposed to transform the Saints' tackling ability. That's a problem when the guy can't tackle. He lasted just two years with the Saints and two more in the league, only starting 16 games in his career.
LB: Les Kelley (1967-1969): Kelley was the first first round pick in team history. He lasted just three seasons and played in 30 games, compiling a whooping 2 recovered fumbles and one interception before the Saints kicked him to the curb and no one else had even the slightest interest in him.
LB: Alvin Toles (1985-1988): Despite being a 1st round pick in 1985, Toles was a complete bust for the Saints. He lasted four seasons but only played one as a starter. His career ended when the Saints gave up on him. I will say veterans Rufus Porter and Bryan Cox are also two guys that came to the Saints as vets with huge expectations and deserve dishonorable mention.
CB: Jason David (2007-2008): I'd say he stands out as the worst player of the Sean Payton era so far. He did have decent ball skills due to the fact that he gambled on interceptions all the time. He did have 8 picks in two seasons, but the bad far outweighed the plays he made. His penchant for staring into the backfield as a receiver blew past him with no safety help was a trademark. He's right up there with Aaron Brooks as one of the most hated players by the fan base in team history, at least in my lifetime. He came in at #55 on Deadspin's list of worst ever.
CB: Toi Cook (1987-1993): When you earn yourself the nickname "toast", you're a shoe in. His nickname was based on the fact that he was routinely burned, at will, by opposing quarterbacks and receivers. We have Toast to thank for that game in 1989 when Flipper Anderson torched him for 336 yards receiving in an overtime loss by the Saints, the singlemost horrendous single game performance I have ever witnessed. Another corner I would always call "toast" was Fred Weary, who deserves an dishonorable mention. Also, the Dale Carter pickup. Ugh.
S: Tebucky Jones (2003-2004): When the Saints landed "TeSucky" from the Patriots, then coach Jim Haslett lauded that this what the missing ingredient to completely transform the defense. The Saints gave up three picks for Jones, a 3rd, 4th and 7th rounder. In two seasons with the Saints, he returned 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. His missed tackles, however, were innumerable. I've never seen a player so clueless on the field in my life.
S: Josh Bullocks (2005-2008): Boy, Jim Haslett sure knew how to pick his safeties. I went with Bullocks because he played four years for the Saints, so I had to stomach his performances for twice the amount of time I had to deal with "TeSucky". Only the Saints could replace the worst safety in team history with the second worst. Both players actually shared similar traits. Bricks for hands, the complete inability to wrap up on tackles electing to always go for the big hit and whiffing more times than not as the last line of defense (which meant touchdown), horrendous ball skills, no instincts whatsoever, and a penchant for always taking bad angles. Sounds like a great free safety right? But hey, at least they were "big and fast".
K: Happy Feller (1972-1973): What a name, right? He often goes unmentioned in historical lore. Weird, because as many horrendous kickers as the Saints have had, he was the absolute worst. For his career, he went 16-43 (37%), which made him 27th worst all time on the Deadspin list of worst players ever. With the Saints he was much better though, going 10-23 (he was 6-20 in one year with the Eagles!) at a 43.5% conversion rate. That rate was still good enough for worst in the NFL in 1973, though, and he has the worst conversion % in team history of guys that have attempted at least 6 kicks or more. This guy belongs on the Mount Rushmore of worst ever in team history in my opinion.
P: Russell Erxleben (1979-1983): Widely debated as the worst draft pick in team history, the Saints drafted him 11th overall and made him the highest taken kicker ever after he hit a 67 yard field goal in college. He ended up being an awful punter for about 4 seasons and could never cut it as a kicker. He attempted 8 field goals in his career, only making half.
ST: Stanford Jennings (1991): Jennings was added by the Saints in 1991 only to play one entirely miserable season, filled with poor stats, fumbles and overall uselessness. I remember being so excited when the Saints picked him up because he was a superstar return man for the Bengals, and he even ran a kickoff back for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. By the time he got to the Saints he was finished. He averaged 17.8 yards per return on kickoffs, a career low.
Anyone you disagree with?
My top 10 worst free agent pickups in team history
My top 5 worst draft picks in team history
Stats on Pro Football Reference