NFL teams rarely cut ties on a second-round pick before he’s even taken the field for his second season.
But in the case of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, New Orleans saw no other option.
Jean-Baptiste had made small strides as a cornerback, but his tendency to regress, combined with a lack of special teams value, led to the developmental player getting cut in the Saints’ final cutdown to 53.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. “You get frustrated. It’s one of those decisions, look, there were times where you see progress, and other times where you felt like you weren’t seeing the same consistency on a regular basis you needed.”
New Orleans gave Jean-Baptiste plenty of opportunities to prove himself this preseason. No Saints defensive back came close to matching the 216 snaps Jean-Baptiste took in the preseason.
Jean-Baptiste opened strong, but he struggled against both Houston and Green Bay, earning a minus-4.9 grade from Pro Football Focus for the overall preseason.
A developmental cornerback like Jean-Baptiste can stay on the roster if he can be an impact player on special teams, the same way that Brian Dixon has the last two seasons.
But Jean-Baptiste struggled there, too, drawing a flag for running out of bounds as a gunner on the punt team.
“When you have an investment like a second-round pick in a player like that, it’s difficult to do, and yet, we thought it was the best thing for us as a team when it came to putting together our secondary,” Payton said. “Part of that is, hey, can he play in the kicking game and be an asset, not a liability. You value those picks, especially those ones that are that early, and it just didn’t work out.”