The New Orleans Saints have announced that they have parted ways with several players most notably linebacker Troy Evans and punt returner-wide receiver Rod Harper.
Evans’s release was somewhat of a surprise as he was an active part of the Super Bowl championship team and served as special teams captain. Evans had been with the Saints three seasons after spending his first five in the league with the Houston Texans.
Beyond his play special teams play, Evans was a reserve linebacker and saw his most action on defense with the Saints this past season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Evans started two games in 2009 after linebacker Scott Fujita was temporarily sidelined with an injury.
The teams’ struggling kick and punt return coverage and the emergence of second-year player Jonathan Cassillas as a starting linebacker to fill a hole left on the Saints’ 4-3 defense with Fujita’s departure to the Cleveland Browns as an unrestricted free agent in the off-season may have contributed to Evans’ unanticipated release.
Harper, who had an impressive pre-season in 2009 as a punt returner but spent most of the 2009 season on injured reserve, didn’t see much action in the 2010 preseason, a sign that the organization is satisfied with wide receiver/kick returner Courtney Roby, who was cut last season before being quickly re-signed.
The Saints have an embarrassment of riches for that role, with running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Lance Moore serving as the team’s primary returners with cornerback Tracy Porter getting some practice at this spot in training camp as well. With tough decisions coming in at different roster positions in the next two weeks, the Saints likely did the pair a favor parting ways with them early so other teams could sign them.
In three other moves that were relatively less surprising, the team waived cornerback Danny Gorrer, guard Tim Duckworth and wide receiver Mark Bradley. Both Gorrer and Duckworth had spent time with the Saints’ practice squad between playing with other teams. Bradley, who had played for three other NFL teams in seven seasons, was brought in during training camp in 2010 as a free-agent.
NFL teams must trim their rosters to 75 players by August 31st and further reduce them to regular season maximum of 53 players by September 4th.