Jason Smith is the latest player involved in a recent purge of the Saints' roster that has taken place in the last 24 hours. While that technically includes Kenyon Coleman being placed on IR, the players officially off the roster are A. J. Davis, Chase Thomas (already picked up by Raiders), Steve Breaston, Patrick Crayton, Dion Turner, Ricky Henry (already picked up by Chiefs), Jarred Fayson and Seneca Wallace. The timing of these releases, preceeding the preseason game on Saturday is a little big curious, because the Saints only have to pair down to 75 after the game. Right now the roster stands at 79, including Joe Morgan and Victor Butler who are both likely destined for IR.
I view this happening now with the curious timing for a few reasons:
First, the roster has less competition than previous years. A lot of the roles of players was defined before training camp started, and there's a lot of stability with what roles and positions belong to who. And if that's the case, releasing those players now gives them a chance to play two games with another team instead of one. I'm sure Ricky Henry and Chase Thomas, both already with new teams, appreciate the early release if they never had a shot at making the team to begin with.
Second, the Saints don't like the bottom part of their 90 man roster and there's a good chance they'll be making waiver claims on a few guys from other team to fill out the bottom part of their 75 man roster. That means trimming some fat now, so they can focus exclusively and be prepared for the guys that get cut, trying to land maybe a couple guys that can come in and compete for a roster spot the last 10 days of preseason.
Lastly, they want to maximize the reps of their young backups in these last two games. They don't want to have to worry about A. J. Davis or Dion Turner stealing reps from Rod Sweeting. Or feel like they have to play Seneca Wallace or deal with a poor attitude due to him sitting a whole game. This allows them to play Ryan Griffin more, or a guy like Baraka Atkins they seem to like. The three receivers being cut probably means more reps for Andy Tanner and Saalim Hakim, giving them honest last shots at making the team with extended play time.
Chase Thomas, Seneca Wallace, Steve Breaston and Jason Smith not even making it to the third preseason game are the biggest eyebrow raisers I'd say… but all four have performed miserably so it's largely deserved.