Saints face tough decision with WR Kirk Merritt
After overhauling their wide receiver corps during the offseason, the. New Orleans Saints now have so much talent at the position that they must make difficult decisions ahead of the. NFL roster cuts deadline on Aug. 30. Current wideouts Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith appeared to be early roster locks to begin the offseason, but the rise of. Destrehan native Kirk Merritt has made him difficult to ignore in this conversation. Merritt was one of the offseason additions; he spent the 2021 season on the. Miami Dolphins practice squad before signing with New Orleans in the spring.
He finished the preseason with 6 catches on 8 targets, 40 receiving yards, and a touchdown reception, but he’s been far more impactful than those numbers suggest.
The wide receiver also had a 59-yard kickoff return against the. Green Bay Packers in the second preseason game and demonstrated in camp that he can take snaps at running back, forming a very similar role to offensive weapon. Ty Montgomery, who the Saints kept around for two years because of his ability to affect the game in those same three areas as a receiver, runner, and returner. Aside from returning kicks, he’s tried out for a variety of special teams roles.
The lack of roster space complicates matters even further. With receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave, and. Deonte Harty all expected to be locks, there may only be one or two spots left to fill. At least one of the Merritt-Callaway-Smith trio will be the odd man out. That’s not even counting rookie wideouts. Dai’Jean Dixon and Rasheed Shahid, both of whom appear to be prime practice squad candidates.
Merritt has shown a lot of versatility, but Callaway, a former. Tennessee Volunteer, understands the system well, was a focal point of it last year (leading the team in receiving yards), and is a gritty and determined run blocker.
All of these characteristics are desired in Saints receivers. Perhaps Merritt has done enough to persuade the Saints to keep a sixth receiver and prefer him to Smith. He’s certainly made a name for himself this offseason, and keeping him off the 53-man roster will be a difficult decision. While the decision will not be easy, it is an excellent location for New Orleans. They’ve gone from a team that was struggling to find options at the position to one that now has them.
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