It’s a perilous time for players after numbing games such as the New Orleans Saints’ 41-10 loss to Carolina on Sunday. And one member of New Orleans’ 53-man roster lost his job Tuesday while another was benched.
Fourth-year receiver Joseph Morgan, who lined up on 36 snaps Sunday and was targeted on five throws, was waived, according to the NFL transaction wire. Safety Kenny Vaccaro — a 2013 first-round draft selection — will be removed from the starting lineup, an NFL source said.
The Saints (5-8) also released practice squad fullback Michael Zordich.
Morgan earlier Tuesday wrote on his verified Twitter account, “Welp,” and he tacked on an icon of an angry face. He added in a separate tweet, “Lol on the day off though.”
Before letting Morgan go, coach Sean Payton said more than once he would not rule out any changes to the roster despite the fact the 15th week of the season begins Thursday. The NFL Network reported there may be more moves beyond waiving Morgan.
At a charity event hosted by Saints running back Mark Ingram’s foundation, which works to benefit children who have an incarcerated parent, rookie practice-squad receiver Brandon Coleman said players understood what happened to Morgan could have happened to anyone.
“It was hard-hitting, but this is a business,” said Coleman, who said he was close to Morgan.
Coleman said Morgan’s departure represented an opportunity for a player such as him to be promoted. But he said Morgan’s state of being was equally at the forefront of his mind.
“I just wanted to know that he was good off the field because it’s bigger than football,” Coleman said. “People have lives outside of this.”
At a separate charity appearance Tuesday, Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan said cuts like Morgan’s were a tough NFL reality. Nonetheless, team morale was high, Jordan said, because the Saints would qualify for the postseason without depending on tiebreakers if they win the three games left on their schedule, including one in Chicago on Monday night.
Vaccaro started all 13 games for the Saints this season, intercepting two passes and breaking up five others. He was second on the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense in combined tackles (66). Against the Panthers, Vaccaro provided good coverage on Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, but he lost his run fit on a 69-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Stewart during the third quarter.
Listed immediately under Vaccaro on the Saints’ unofficial depth chart is Jamarca Sanford, who signed with New Orleans as a free agent on Nov. 12 after starting in Minnesota from 2011-13.
Morgan didn’t touch the ball often with the Saints; but when he did, the result was usually a big play. He had only 14 catches and two rushes in the 19 games he suited out for the Saints — but he had three touchdown grabs, 471 receiving yards and 68 rushing yards. That equates to 33.7 yards per touch.
Yet Morgan’s waiver concluded a turbulent tenure in New Orleans. The undrafted player out of Walsh (an NAIA program in his hometown of Canton, Ohio) missed his entire rookie season in 2011 and all of what would’ve been his third year as a pro in 2013 with knee injuries.
He was arrested during the 2013 offseason on suspicion of drunken driving and entered a diversion program offering him the opportunity to avoid prosecution in exchange for submitting to monitoring, counseling and other social services. This season, he was suspended for two games for an undisclosed violation of team regulations.
That followed his being inactive for five of the Saints’ first seven games this season.