NFC South: Johnny Thomas

The New Orleans Saints obviously are happy with what they have seen so far out of rookie defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.

That became evident Monday as the team announced it has released veteran defensive tackle Remi Ayodele. It’s pretty obvious the Saints plan to use Hicks and Tom Johnson as the backups in the rotation behind starters Sedrick Ellis and Brodrick Bunkley. The Saints initially had brought Ayodele back to New Orleans as insurance in case Hicks, who played his college football in Canada, did not develop quickly.

Ayodele joined the Saints in 2008 and started 29 games over three seasons. He left for Minnesota as a free agent last year, but was re-signed by New Orleans in free agency.

Ayodele was the biggest name on the list of transactions made by the Saints to get down to the 75-player limit. The only other veteran released Monday was quarterback Luke McCown. He had been signed during the offseason before the Saints and starter Drew Brees were able to work out a new contract. The Saints are set with Brees and Chase Daniel as their top two quarterbacks. Sean Canfield remains on the roster for now, but the Saints often have carried only two quarterbacks on the roster in recent seasons.

The Saints also waived linebacker Aaron Tevis, center Brian Folkerts, tight end Jake Byrne, safety Johnny Thomas, receiver Derek Moye, guard Paul Fenaroli, tackle Hutch Eckerson, defensive end Donovan Robinson, receiver Kevin Hardy, cornerback Kamaal McIlwain, defensive tackle Swanson Miller, cornerback Cord Parks and receiver Marques Clark.
If I had to pick one undrafted rookie to make an NFC South roster right now, it would be Tampa Bay offensive lineman Desmond Wynn.

That’s because the Bucs obviously thought very highly of Wynn when they signed him. I just got a look at the contract details for all the NFC South undrafted rookie free agents and Wynn’s $15,000 signing bonus was easily the highest. That might have something to do with the fact Wynn played for coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers.

A lot of undrafted rookies got a signing bonus of $1,000 or $2,000 and a fair amount got no signing bonus at all. But, as he’s been known to do at times in the past, Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik handed out several signing bonuses that were well above the league average. Offensive lineman Bradley Sowell got $10,000, offensive lineman Mike VanDerMeulen got $8,000, cornerback Leonard Johnson got $7,500, safety Tramain Thomas got $7,000 and fullback Cody Johnson got $5,000.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the division and see which other undrafted rookies got at least $5,000 to sign.

The Falcons gave out only one signing bonus of $5,000 and that went to defensive end Louis Nzegwu.

The Saints gave running back Travaris Cadet, offensive lineman Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Aderious Simmons and safety Johnny Thomas each a $5,000 signing bonus.

The Panthers gave receivers Jared Green and Rico Wallace each $7,500. Defensive tackle Nate Chandler got $6,000. Offensive linemen Will Blackwell and Matt Reynolds each signed for $5,000.

Saints add 18 undrafted rookies

April, 30, 2012
4/30/12
12:43
PM ET
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with 18 undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:
  • Jacob Byrne TE Wisconsin
  • Adrian Davis DB Jacksonville State
  • Chris Givens WR Miami (OH)
  • Tyrunn Walker DE/DT Tulsa

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