METAIRIE -- The New Orleans Saints learned Friday that life comes at you fast, with wide receiver Dez Bryant leaving practice with what’s feared to be a torn Achilles tendon after signing with the team on Thursday. If confirmed, it would be a brutal injury — especially for Bryant, who seemed overjoyed to be in New Orleans.
But this leaves the Saints with their own problems to sort out — like starting over with the process that led to signing Bryant. With that in mind, here are the players New Orleans considered instead of Bryant in a workout earlier this week, and a familiar face, they could look to if Bryant is truly lost for the season. If that’s the case, he would join Cameron Meredith, Ted Ginn Jr., Tommylee Lewis and Travin Dural on the list of Saints receivers to land on injured reserve. It’s rare to see a position group hit so hard.
Marshall was one of two receivers the Saints worked out earlier in the week, along with Bryant. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he also impressed the Saints with his performance in that workout. But Marshall is the definition of a washed-up player. He’s 35 years old and struggled to get on the field for the Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants and New York Jets in the past three years, leaving a trail of locker room drama in his wake. The Saints were wise to pass on him and should do so again.
The third receiver New Orleans tried out on Tuesday brings the least spectacular career. He’s never been more than a complementary piece in an offense, which is what he’d be doing for the Saints. Aiken runs nice routes and could probably produce better when paired with Drew Brees than Joe Flacco or Jacoby Brissett. But he’d probably very much not be the team’s first option in this situation.
His flight was delayed by weather, but Kerley was on the list of wideouts expected to try out along with Bryant, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. They could try to bring him in again now that they’re likely starting over. Kerley was a decent contributor for the New York Jets from 2011 to 2015, and had 667 yards on a career-best 64 catches for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. He’s got some ability and could give the Saints more than Aiken while bringing less volatility than Marshall.
You forgot all about Coleman, didn’t you? The former undrafted free agent was second on the Saints in wide receiver snaps last year (651), trailing only Michael Thomas (851), and would offer immediate upside as someone who knows the offense and is hungry to get back in the league after being sidelined since January with a neck injury. If he’s healthy, Coleman is a no-brainer for New Orleans to bring back into the fold. It’s something Saints coach Sean Payton indicated could happen when Coleman was released back in August while still dealing with his injury. With time pressing and so few options to be found, don’t be shocked if Coleman returns.