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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Saints waive LB Martez Wilson

By Mike Triplett

The New Orleans Saints waived linebacker Martez Wilson on Tuesday to make room for rookie quarterback Ryan Griffin on their 53-man roster. The move isn’t shocking, since Wilson had been phased out of the Saints’ defense in recent weeks. But it’s a pretty stunning end for a career that began with so much promise.

The Saints drafted the athletic 6-foot-4, 252-pounder out of Illinois in the third round in 2011. But he was never able to find a consistent role on the defense while switching positions and defensive coordinators every year.

It seemed like Rob Ryan’s 3-4 scheme would be the best fit yet for Wilson, who seemed ideally suited to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 with his size and athleticism. But an elbow injury that wiped out his entire preseason didn’t help his development. And then the Saints have rarely lined up in their base 3-4 package this season, usually preferring a four-man front with five defensive backs. Wilson’s snaps were limited all season until he was declared as a healthy inactive in Week 6.

Wilson had one sack and four tackles this season. In his three-year career, he had a total of five sacks, 33 tackles and a forced fumble.

Chances are he’ll get picked up somewhere else around the league, since athletes of his caliber aren’t easy to find.

Wilson ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any linebacker at the 2011 scouting combine (4.49 seconds). And his former Illinois coach and former defensive coordinator Ron Zook once said, “Probably, other than [former Saints pass-rusher] Joe Johnson, he might be more of a pure athlete than anyone I coached with the Saints.”

The Saints tried Wilson at outside linebacker in coordinator Gregg Williams’ base 4-3 scheme in 2011, then defensive end in coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 scheme in 2012. But Wilson never earned a consistent role in the rotation.