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Saints roster breakdown: Oldies but goodies

3/18/2015

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have proved they’re willing to trade just about everyone as they aggressively reshape their roster. But there’s a difference between “considering all options” and “actively trying to dump players.” Some players are still vital to the cause going forward.

This is the fourth in a five-part series highlighting the most valuable players remaining on the current roster -- and attempting to rate their job security.

OLDIES BUT GOODIES:

WR Marques Colston. The Saints’ all-time leading receiver secured his spot on the roster when he agreed to a $3.2 million pay cut earlier in the month (down from $7 million in salary and bonuses to $3.8 million this year). And he’s even more valuable to the Saints now that they traded away fellow go-to big man Jimmy Graham.

Come to think of it, I screwed up by not putting him on the “shocking if they get traded” list for those reasons. But I felt like he belonged in a second-tier group since his status was uncertain before he agreed to the pay cut.

P Thomas Morstead. The former Pro Bowler also probably deserves to be ranked among the “shocking if they get traded” crew since he’s been so valuable and so consistently good for New Orleans for so long.

I hesitated to put him on that list since he’s still due to make $9.7 million over the final three years of his deal -- and the Saints may be forced to cut corners on luxuries like awesome punters at some point. But he’s only due $2.45 million in salary and bonuses this season, so I can’t imagine him going anywhere.

OT Zach Strief. Strief has arguably been the Saints’ most consistent lineman over the past two years. And he held up his end of the bargain last year after signing a new five-year, $20 million contract in free agency.

I’m not sure if Strief will last the entire life of that contract since he’s 31 years old now. But I’d be very surprised to see him go now, when he’s only due $2.1 million in salary and bonuses in 2015.

Others. Other veterans who recently re-signed as free agents or agreed to pay cuts like defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley and linebackers David Hawthorne, Parys Haralson and Ramon Humber should be safe, as well. But they aren’t in the same hierarchy as the three guys I mentioned when it comes to value.

Tight end Benjamin Watson is another player I considered putting on this list, especially since Saints GM Mickey Loomis mentioned him by name after the Graham trade. He’s valued both on and off the field. But it’s hard to attach too much security to a 34-year-old role player due $1.5 million.

I also left No. 3 safety Rafael Bush off since he’s due $1.95 million and coming off a lower leg fracture.

PREVIOUS ENTRIES IN SERIES:

Shocking if they get traded

Wild cards

Vital if they stay