Analyzing the Saints' first 53-man roster of the 2021 season: more changes likely to come


ARLINGTON, Texas — The New Orleans Saints' initial 53-man roster for the 2021 regular season has been set.

With that in mind, this exact roster is not what the Saints end up rolling with for the season opener on Sept. 12, as changes are inevitable.

Who goes on the injured reserve? Will the Saints make a trade? Will they sign a free agent? Many things are possible before the season officially kicks off. 

Additionally, some of the players the Saints waived or released could return when the 16-player practice squad is established. 

In the meantime, below is an overview of the Saints' initial 53-man player roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3): Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Ian Book

RELEASED: Trevor Siemian

SNAPSHOT: With Winston taking the reins as starter, the Saints will make more moves here. The Saints released Siemian, who is not subject to waivers, but he'll more than likely be coming back on the 53-man by the end of the week, per source, and will serve as their in-game emergency quarterback, like Winston did for Drew Brees last season. What does that mean for Ian Book, their rookie draft pick? More will be known this week.

RUNNING BACKS (4): Alvin Kamara, Tony Jones Jr., Latavius Murray, Dwayne Washington

RELEASED: Devonta Freeman

SNAPSHOT: The Saints roll with four running backs with Kamara, the face of the franchise, leading the way. Washington's emphasis will be on special teams. Jones makes the roster after missing the cut last year and later landing on the practice squad. Murray, 31, is in the second-to-last year of his deal in New Orleans.

FULLBACK (0): None

RELEASED: Alex Armah

SNAPSHOT: The Saints have had a fullback on their roster for years, the release of Armah changes that. Tight end Garrett Griffin had been practicing a bit at fullback during camp, so he could potentially see time in the backfield.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith, Ty Montgomery, Lil'Jordan Humphrey

WAIVED*/RELEASED: Kawaan Baker*, Easop Winston Jr.*, Chris Hogan, Kevin White

SNAPSHOT: The room is a little light right now with Michael Thomas on the physically unable to perform list and Smith working back from injury, but Smith is expected to be back sometime soon. Not many surprises here, other than the release of Hogan, but he's expected to be back on the 53-man roster by the end of the week, per source, as the Saints make a few more roster moves. Baker and Winston are both expected to be back on the practice squad if they clear waivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4): Adam Trautman, Nick Vannett, Juwan Johnson, Garrett Griffin

WAIVED: Ethan Wolf

SNAPSHOT: This room is a little banged up right now with injuries to Trautman and Vannett, so we'll see if they keep this group of four when those two are healthy again. Johnson made the practice squad as a rookie receiver last season, playing in a few games. Griffin was also on the practice squad for most of last year, but played in several games.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Erik McCoy, Cesar Ruiz, James Hurst, Calvin Throckmorton, Will Clapp, Landon Young

WAIVED/RELEASED: J.R. Sweezy, Derrick Kelly, Christian Montano, Caleb Benenoch, Jordan Mills

SNAPSHOT: This room is mostly the same from last year, though they added rookie draft pick Landon Young and promoted Calvin Throckmorton from the practice squad to the 53-man roster this time. The offensive line is definitely one of New Orleans' strengths, returning most of their starters. 

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DEFENSIVE ENDS (5): Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Carl Granderson, Payton Turner, Tanoh Kpassagnon

RELEASED: None.

SNAPSHOT: The Saints' defensive ends are a long and athletic bunch, and the team chose to keep all five of them. Jordan, Davenport and Granderson have been with the team for at least the last two seasons, and Kpassagnon and their first-round draft pick in Turner are new to the organization. Turner is working his way back from injury, so it's not yet known just how much he'll contribute right away.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (3): Malcolm Roach, Shy Tuttle, Christian Ringo

WAIVED*/RELEASED: R.J. McIntosh*, Josiah Bronson*, Albert Huggins*, Damion Square

SNAPSHOT: On the surface, this looks like a room with not much depth, but the Saints have a fourth defensive tackle in David Onyemata on suspension, so he doesn't count toward the 53 at this time. The young trio of Roach, Ringo and Tuttle will have to hold down the fort in the meantime, alongside any other defensive tackle the Saints bring aboard in the interim.

LINEBACKERS (7): Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander, Kaden Elliss, Zack Baun, Pete Werner, Andrew Dowell, Chase Hansen

WAIVED*: Shaq Smith, Wynton McManis

SNAPSHOT: The number of linebackers is high, but the Saints are high on the room with leaders like Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander. This position group was one of the concerns heading into training camp and is coming out as one of the deepest and strongest rooms. Elliss, Werner and Baun all saw time in training camp with the first-team defense and Dowell and Hansen have shown they, like Elliss and Baun, can be valuable on special teams. However, with roster moves pending, one of these guys might get waived or released in the next few days.

CORNERBACKS (3): Marshon Lattimore, Ken Crawley, Paulson Adebo.

WAIVED*/RELEASED: Natrell Jamerson, Bryan Mills*, Grant Haley*, KeiVarae Russell

SNAPSHOT: The number of cornerbacks here is a shocker, and something I'd expect changes once the Saints go through the roster cuts from other teams, especially since Ken Crawley again missed practice Tuesday due to some unknown injury. The Saints have two pretty versatile safeties who can play cornerback in a pinch in C.J. Gardner-Johnson and P.J. Williams. Lattimore is on the active roster at this time and no sanctions from the NFL have come down at this time.

SAFETIES (6): Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Williams, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, P.J. Williams, J.T. Gray, Jeff Heath

WAIVED: Eric Burrell, Deuce Wallace

SNAPSHOT: One of the biggest surprises of the day for the Saints is Heath making the cut. The former Cowboy was a late addition to camp and played minimal snaps in the lone preseason game he played in. The rest of the room was expected, as all five of them play key roles for the Saints with Jenkins, Marcus Williams and Gardner-Johnson serving as starters, Gray being a leader on special teams and P.J. Williams being a flexible, positionless defensive back.

SPECIALISTS (4): Wil Lutz, Aldrick Rosas, Blake Gillikin, Zach Wood, 

RELEASED: None.

SNAPSHOT: This four-person specialists room will likely be short-lived after the Saints make an expected move of kicker Wil Lutz to the injured reserve. He had a surgery during training camp to repair a core muscle injury. If they do make that move, Lutz will have to miss at least the first three weeks of the season while he recovers. Will Rosas be the guy to take over for Lutz in the interim? The Saints will wade through the transactions to see if there's a kicker they like more.

RESERVE/PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (1): Michael Thomas.

SNAPSHOT: Thomas spent all of training camp on the PUP list, and now he'll be sidelined for at least the first five weeks of the regular season as he continues to work his way back from his ankle surgery.

RESERVE/SUSPENDED BY COMMISSIONER (1): David Onyemata.

SNAPSHOT: Onyemata will serve a six-game suspension to start the season and does not count against the 53-man roster. His suspension was handed down earlier during the offseason after he tested positive for a banned substance.