The New Orleans Saints re-signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham Tuesday, just three days after releasing him at final cuts over the weekend.
Graham, 36, had initially agreed to re-sign with the Saints in February, having finished the 2013 season as the team's placekicker after Garrett Hartley was released in December.
The journeyman had been competing with Derek Dimke for the kicking position this offseason, and after both kickers were cut loose Saturday, Graham has ultimately emerged victorious in a battle that was neck-and-neck throughout training camp and the preseason.Graham, who actually began his journey as a pro kicker with the Saints back in the 2000 offseason, has compiled an 85.5% success rate for his career.
Kicker has been a tenuous position and somewhat of a revolving door of sorts for the Saints during coach Sean Payton's tenure. Following the retirement of long-serving kicker John Carney, the Saints have gone through several different options at the position. While Dimke may have the longer shelf life ahead of him at age 24, he has yet to kick in a game, or the conditions that an established veteran like Graham has. Therefore, it is not a major surprise to see the team stick with the proven commodity in Graham, who went 6-6 for the Saints over a three-game stretch before missing a pair of 40+ yarders in nasty conditions as New Orleans' season came to an end at Seattle in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.
In a corresponding move, the team announced Tuesday that it has cut backup quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Griffin, 25, spent parts of last season on the team's active roster after some quarterback-needy organizations began sniffing around the Saints' practice squad. The Saints promoted the former Tulane signal-caller in order to keep him from being signed away. Will Ryan Griffin ultimately find his way back to the Saints' active roster?
Griffin battled veteran Luke McCown for the top backup job behind Drew Brees in camp. Though both quarterbacks performed well, the more experienced McCown demonstrated a higher degree of consistency and effectiveness, filling in for Brees as the starter in three of the club's four preseason games.
The Saints are known to be high on Griffin, so they may have waited for other teams to sort out their rosters before exposing him to waivers. Unfortunately for Griffin, his chances to latch on to another team's 53-man roster have taken a hit, as most organizations have set their depth charts at the quarterback position as week 1 preparations have begun in earnest.
It is possible that the Saints will either add Griffin to their practice squad, provided he clears waivers, or bring him back once the team uses its short-term injured reserve option. Players such as FB Erik Lorig, rookie LB Khairi Fortt, and WR Kenny Stills could be candidates for the designation, as they are battling ailments that could threaten their availability for the first few weeks of the 2014 season. Players given the designation are eligible to return in six weeks.
New Orleans opens its 2014 season on the road Sunday afternoon against the Atlanta Falcons.