McAllister's release had to happen

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

It's a sad day in New Orleans, but it was inevitable.

The Saints' release of veteran running back Deuce McAllister obviously had been coming for months, even though a lot of fans somehow were believing there could be another ending. There couldn't.

McAllister was a great player -- one of the best in franchise history -- and a great person. He was a local (growing up in Mississippi) and he meant a lot to the region that also includes Louisiana and Alabama. But McAllister no longer fits in coach Sean Payton's plans.

Maybe it was the age or maybe it was the knee injuries, but Payton had plenty of chances to use McAllister last year and he barely did. It was painful to watch McAllister standing on the sideline last year. It was particularly painful when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush were coming up short in short-yardage situations.

The Saints kept McAllister around last year as a decoration and there was no way they could do that again. They need to go out and find a power back to go with Thomas and Bush.

But they also needed to let McAllister go. He might be able to play a role for another team, but there was no role left for him in New Orleans.

Don't feel sorry for McAllister. Be happy about what he did give the Saints and the region during his time there. He might go somewhere else and play for a year or two.

But McAllister always will be thought of as a Saint in New Orleans.