The New Orleans Saints promoted No. 3 quarterback Ryan Griffin from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Tuesday; and the team waived linebacker Martez Wilson, a third-round draft pick out of Illinois in 2011.
The Saints reportedly made the move after the St. Louis Rams, in need of a quarterback, tried to sign Griffin away from New Orleans. The stunning result: Wilson was sacrified after many thought he could be a key contributor under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
The Rams have only Kellen Clemens on their roster after starter Sam Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury in a loss Sunday at Carolina. Citing an anonymous source, Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner blog reported that the Rams seemed ready to ink a deal with Griffin, but the Saints got him to stay by signing him themselves to their 53-man active roster from the practice squad.
NFL rules state that practice-squad players can sign with any team that is willing to offer them a spot on their active roster for a minimum of three weeks. The league on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that the Saints promoted Griffin and cut Wilson.
Griffin, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Tulane, went 32-of-59 for 380 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the preseason with the Saints. New Orleans waived him on Aug. 31, opting for Luke McCown to back up starter Drew Brees. The Saints then added Griffin to the practice squad the next day.
Had he signed with the Rams, Griffin might’ve been able to immediately compete for playing time.
But Griffin may have chosen to stay in New Orleans to learn from Brees in an offense similar to the one he ran at Tulane under coach Curtis Johnson. Johnson was the Saints’ wide receivers coach from 2006 to 2011.
The Rams ended up signing Brady Quinn and Austin Davis.
As for Wilson, it appeared he would see plenty of action at outside linebacker after Victor Butler (on the physically unable to perform list) and Will Smith (on year-ending injured reserve) sustained torn anterior cruciate ligaments prior to the start of the season. It didn’t happen, though.
Wilson dealt with an elbow injury throughout training camp and didn’t see action until Week 2 of the regular season. He subsequently lined up on just 42 defensive snaps, recording four tackles and a quarterback sack as the Saints raced off to a 5-1 start.
Curtis Lofton (368 snaps), Junior Galette (297) and David Hawthorne (247) have gotten the lion’s share of the action at linebacker, and Parys Haralson (101) has gotten quite a bit of it as well.
The 6-foot-4, 252-pound Wilson is built well to be a pass-rushing linebacker in defenses that use three down linemen and four linebackers. However, Ryan has often had the Saints present looks with more down linemen and defensive backs than is usual in a typical 3-4 defense.
Wilson made 33 tackles (25 of them solo) and got five sacks with the Saints before they waived him. He also played on special teams, and he blocked a punt in 2012.