- LDE:Left Defensive End
- LDT:Left Defensive Tackle
- RDT:Right Defensive Tackle
- RDE:Right Defensive End
- WLB:Weakside Linebacker
- MLB:Middle Linebacker
- SLB:Strongside Linebacker
- LCB:Left Cornerback
- SS:Strong Safety
- FS:Free Safety
- RCB:Right Cornerback
- PK:Place Kicker
- PR:Punt Returner
- KR:Kick Returner
- LS:Long Snapper
- WR:Wide Receiver
- WR:Wide Receiver
- WR:Wide Receiver
- LT:Left Tackle
- LG:Left Guard
- RG:Right Guard
- RT:Right Tackle
- TE:Tight End
- RB:Running Back
- PUP:Physically unable to perform
- SUS:Suspended by NFL or current team
- IR:Injured reserve
New Orleans Saints to release veteran backup RB Latavius Murray
We expected the New Orleans Saints to sign free agent cornerback Desmond Trufant after a successful tryout, but the corresponding roster move is a little surprising. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported that the Saints will release backup running back Latavius Murray on Tuesday, which was confirmed by NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill.
It’s surprising because Murray had played well in his first few years with New Orleans, and the decision to keep him during final roster cuts last week suggested the Saints thought he still had something left to give. Schefter adds that the Saints approached Murray about a pay cut, but he declined — which makes sense considering how few slices of the pie are left to go around just days before the season starts. It’s a shame the Saints didn’t get a draft pick or any other compensation before letting Murray go, but his poor performance in preseason likely quieted any interest.
So now Murray will go looking for a new team. Maybe he ends up following the path of the player he replaced by signing with Mark Ingram’s old Baltimore Ravens squad, which has dealt with a rash of injuries at the position in recent weeks. There are other openings around the league.
As for New Orleans: it’s the Tony Jones Jr. show behind Alvin Kamara. They also have Dwayne Washington and Ty Montgomery on the roster if more backs are needed down the line. Cutting Murray at this point saves more than $3.1 million in salary cap, but it remains to be seen what Trufant signed for, which help balance that out. Stay tuned for additional roster moves in the days ahead.
Updated cornerbacks depth chart after Saints sign ex-Falcon Desmond Trufant
Saints' Running Backs a Position of Strength Entering 2021
The 2020 New Orleans Saints offense finished fifth in the league in scoring and 12th in total yardage.
It was a bit below the normal offensive production we've been accustomed to in the fifteen years Sean Payton has been the head coach.
New Orleans finished 19th in passing yardage, their lowest output in Payton's tenure on the sideline with the team.
Injuries throughout the receiving corps, including a severe ankle injury to All-Pro WR Michael Thomas, along with a decline by QB Drew Brees contributed to the struggles.
New Orleans was still able to have an effective offense thanks to an outstanding running game. New Orleans ranked sixth in the league with 2,265 rushing yards, highest total since 1983, and led the NFL with a franchise-record 30 touchdowns on the ground.
The Saints report to their 2021 training camp in just one week. Despite major personnel changes at several positions, their running back room remains largely unchanged.
The Saints have perhaps the deepest group of running backs in the NFL, led by the league's best offensive weapon.
SAINTS RUNNING BACK DEPTH CHART
- Alvin Kamara
- Latavius Murray
- Ty Montgomery
- Alex Armah (FB)
- Dwayne Washington
- Tony Jones, Jr.
- Stevie Scott III
Twenty-six-year-old RB Alvin Kamara is coming off the best season of his spectacular four-year career.
He led the team in rushing with a career-high 932 yards, averaging five yards per carry and rushing for a franchise record 16 touchdowns.
Kamara also led the team with 756 receiving yards and a career-high 83 receptions. He led the NFL with 21 total touchdowns, also setting a new franchise mark. His six rushing touchdowns during a Christmas Day rout of the Vikings tied a 91-year-old NFL record, as he rushed for a career-best 155 yards.
A human cheat code for Sean Payton's offense, Kamara is a lethal weapon anywhere along the offensive formation.
Kamara's proven that he can pick up tough yards between the tackles, runs routes like a wide receiver, and has elite vision and balance with the ball in his hands.
Capable of shouldering the offensive load, Kamara remained effective even with extra defensive attention because of injuries to the receiving corps.
The 31-year-old Murray could be a featured back for several teams. Providing a terrific 1-2 punch with Kamara, Murray rushed for 656 yards and scored five touchdowns in 2020.
Murray ran for 124 yards in a mid-season win at Denver, the second highest rushing output for the team last season.
A power runner at 6’3” and 230-Lbs., Murray has an underrated burst into the open field and is a capable receiver out of the backfield.
When Kamara was slowed by injuries in 2019, Murray proved up to the challenge of the team’s top back. He is arguably the NFL's best Number 2 running back.
New Orleans brought the 28-year-old Montgomery in as a free-agent last season to bolster depth.
A wide receiver early in his career, Montgomery converted to running back and brings terrific versatility to the team's offense. He saw little offensive action early last year and missed six games with a hamstring injury.
Kamara and Murray were sidelined during the regular season finale at Carolina because of COVID-19 protocols. Montgomery stepped in and rushed for 105 yards in the victory.
Montgomery, six-feet tall and 216-Lbs., runs with decent power and can pull away from defenders in the open field. He’s also an accomplished receiver and gives the team a solid fallback option to Murray and Kamara.
THE NEW FACE
The Saints use the fullback position more than most teams. When FB Michael Burton departed in free agency, the Saints responded by poaching a division rival for his replacement.
Twenty-seven-year-old Alex Armah was signed as a free-agent away from the Carolina Panthers. Entering his fifth season, Armah has just 29 career touches for 64 yards, but has scored four touchdowns.
A huge lead back at 6’2” and 255-Lbs., Armah's primary responsibility will be as lead blocker for the dynamic duo of Kamara/Murray. He must also show that he can be a reliable short yardage option as either a runner or receiver.
ON THE BUBBLE?
Reserve RB Dwayne Washington has been with the Saints for three seasons. One of the team’s best special teams players, Washington has been used little in the offensive attack.
Washington, 27, has just 43 carries for 229 yards with New Orleans. One of those was a 108-yard outing in the 2018 season finale against Carolina.
Washington runs with outstanding effort, but adds little explosiveness to the offense. He’s a valuable member of the special teams unit, but his roster spot could be in jeopardy from one of two promising young backs.
WATCH OUT FOR:
The Saints have had tremendous success with undrafted running backs during Sean Payton's tenure. Pierre Thomas is one of the most popular players in team history. Other unheralded backs like Chris Ivory, Khiry Robinson, and Travaris Cadet also made important contributions to the team.
Second-year RB Tony Jones Jr. made the team as an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame last year. He saw just three carries for 13 yards during the season finale before leaving with injury, but impressed coaches with his running ability in practice.
The 5'11" and 224-Lb. Jones runs with good vision and power between the tackles. He’ll have to prove himself as a receiver, but has a shot to provide efficient depth.
Undrafted rookie RB Stevie Scott III from Indiana was also added this spring. The 6’0” 225-Lb. Scott runs with tremendous power and has shows excellent instincts between the tackles.
Scott doesn't have breakaway speed and isn't a great receiver, but has a nice feel for pass blocking responsibilities. He’s a powerful finisher and is a load for defenders in short yardage and goal-line situations.
Sean Payton has never hesitated to keep an undrafted back over an established veteran.
Washington has an edge to keep his roster spot because of his special teams contributions. If either Scott or Jones show that they can excel on special teams and provide an offensive upgrade, his job could be up for grabs.
Taysom Hill has also been a major factor in the running game over the last three seasons. Locked in a battle with Jameis Winston for the starting quarterback job vacated by the retired Brees, Hill figures to still be a big part of the offense regardless of where he lines up.
No matter who wins the quarterback competition, Alvin Kamara will continue to be a major part of the offense, with Murray playing a crucial complementary role.
The Saints will always feature a diverse passing attack as long as Payton is in charge. For the next quarterback to have optimal success, the New Orleans running backs must come up big again in 2021.
Follow Bob Rose on Facebook and on Twitter @bobbyr2613.
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Saints: Running back depth chart after injury to Tony Jones Jr.
With Tony Jones Jr. landing on IR, the New Orleans Saints are now looking at a new running back depth chart. It doesn’t affect the top, as Alvin Kamara is fortunately good to go, but some new faces have joined the team this week.
As of now, the active roster consists of Kamara, Dwayne Washington, and newly-signed Devine Ozigbo along with fullback Alex Armah.
We all know Kamara and what he can do but what about the rest of the Saints running backs?
Washington has been with the team since 2018 and currently looks to fill the backup role with Jones on the shelf. Washington’s best season in NOLA was in 2018 when he had 27 carries for 154 yards. He’s yet to score a touchdown while donning a Saints uniform.
Ozigbo was just claimed off the Jaguars’ practice squad earlier this week and probably won’t get much attention in the offense unless something happens to Kamara and NOLA doesn’t bring in another option.
Ozigbo, who played college ball at Nebraska, spent time with New Orleans in 2019 before getting picked up by Jacksonville and playing there for the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. He had 10 carries for 24 yards and 12 receptions for 65 yards during his time in Jacksonville.
Now he’s back with the team that initially scooped him up following the 2019 NFL Draft and while it’ll be a small role, he’s a depth piece.
The practice squad consists of Ryquell Armstead, who NOLA also added this week. He too played for the Jaguars and had a rough go with COVID-19 last year that eliminated him being a factor in that offense during the 2020 season. Armstead had 35 carries for 109 yards during his rookie season in 2019.
Adam Prentice is also on the practice squad, giving the Saints some depth at fullback. They initially waived Armah during roster cuts while claiming Prentice off of waivers but Armah has gotten all of the fullback work in the offense to this point. It’s nice to see some teams still utilizing fullbacks.
Getting back to the depth chart — With Jones out, the Saints will continue to lean on Kamara heavily while occasionally getting some reps in for Washington. Ozigbo is mostly there in case of an emergency but third-string running backs know that drill all too well.
This is so sad for Jones, who worked incredibly hard to make the roster in the first place. Hopefully he heals up quickly and can help the offense when he returns.
Running back saints
Saints Post-Draft Running Backs 2021
Most NFL teams experience roster turnover from season to season. Salary cap issues, free agency, the draft, and general impatience from players, coaches, and front offices lead to few teams having the same look from one year to the next.
Even perennial contenders like the New Orleans Saints experience roster changes at key spots. The Saints have done a magnificent job at keeping their talented core together over the last four years but suffered some key personnel losses this offseason.
Legendary quarterback Drew Brees retired. Salary cap issues forced the team to release key contributors like Janoris Jenkins, Kwon Alexander, Malcom Brown, Thomas Morstead, Emmanuel Sanders, and Josh Hill. Starters Sheldon Rankins, Alex Anzalone, and Trey Hendrickson also departed as free agents. The Saints could not add replacements in free agency with so little cap room, other than former Kansas City defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon.
New Orleans added six players in the NFL draft and could add more free agents before the start of training camp in July. While several positions might have a different look in 2021, one spot that did not change was the running back position. The Saints averaged over 141 yards on the ground in 2020, ranking sixth in the league, and had an NFL-best 30 rushing touchdowns.
Here is a look at the Saints current roster of running backs (number and age).
- Alvin Kamara - #41 (25)
- Latavius Murray - #28 (31)
- Ty Montgomery - #88 (28)
- Tony Jones Jr. - #37 (23)
- Dwayne Washington - #24 (27)
- Stevie Scott* - #34 (21)*
- Alex Armah (FB) - 340 (26)
* = rookie
Kamara had the most productive season of his spectacular four-year career. He rushed for a career-high 932 yards and was second in league with 16 rushing touchdowns.
Kamara was also the team's leading receiver, catching a career-best 83 passes for 756 yards and 5 more scores. His 21 total touchdowns were the most in the league, and his career-high 1,688 yards from scrimmage were the 3rd most in the NFL.
Despite being the major focus of defenses week after week, Kamara continues to flourish. He tied a 91-year-old NFL record with 6 rushing touchdowns in a Christmas Day victory over the Vikings, adding a career-high 155 rushing yards.
Kamara is one of the NFL's most feared players and will continue to be a major part of the offense, especially without Brees.
Latavius Murray gives New Orleans the league's best 1-2 punch at running back along with Kamara. Murray picked up 656 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns, adding 176 yards and another score on 23 receptions.
He had 124 rushing yards in a Week 12 win at Denver and provided power between the tackles for the offense.
Veteran WR/RB Ty Montgomery struggled with injuries and provided little production last season after signing with New Orleans as a free agent. When Kamara, Murray, Washington, and FB Michael Burton had to sit out the season finale at Carolina because of COVID-19 protocols, Montgomery stepped up to show how valuable he could be.
He rushed for 108 yards in that win over the Panthers and should factor more in the team's offensive plans as both a runner and receiver in 2021.
Dwayne Washington is one of the league's better special teams players, making it hard for newcomers to displace him from the roster. Washington has just 43 carries for 229 yards in three years with the Saints but has proven to be an effective backup. He will likely need to shine on special teams again to keep his spot on the roster.
TONY JONES, JR.
Tony Jones, Jr., an undrafted rookie from Notre Dame last season, spent most of the year on the team's practice squad. He carried the ball 3 times for 13 yards in the finale at Carolina before leaving with an injury. Jones was an effective runner between the tackles in college and could be a dark horse to earn a spot on the active roster.
Stevie Scott, an undrafted rookie from Indiana, signed after the draft, is a rugged between the tackles runner who could push either Jones or Washington for a spot on the active roster. Scott and Jones both look to continue a long New Orleans tradition of finding undrafted gems at running back.
Alex Armah hopes to continue another New Orleans trend of ‘‘throwback’’ contributors at fullback. Signed as a free agent away from Carolina, Armah has 29 career offensive touches for 65 yards in four seasons. He has rushed for three touchdowns and at 6’2” 255-Lbs. could be a massive lead blocker for Kamara, Murray, and Montgomery.
Kamara is an unquestioned focal point of the New Orleans offense. Some were surprised that Murray wasn't among the offseason releases to create salary-cap space. With the re-signing of Montgomery, the team could still release Murray after June 1 if they have confidence in Jones or Scott to provide depth.
Moving on from Murray would create over $3.1 million in cap space and elevate Montgomery to the backup role behind Kamara. Expect a fierce battle between Jones, Scott, and veteran Washington for the final roster spots at the position.
Going into the 2020 season without Drew Brees, the Saints will rely on the elite versatility of Kamara. For the offense to remain successful, they'll also need rushing and receiving contributions from their complementary backs.
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