Thomas Morstead, longtime standout New Orleans Saints punter, released after 12 seasons

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The New Orleans Saints have released Thomas Morstead, who has been one of the NFL‘s best punters over the past 12 years and was responsible for one of the most iconic moments in franchise history.

Morstead was the one who executed the Saints’ surprise onside kick as a rookie during Super Bowl XLIV. He went on to make the Pro Bowl in 2012. And he ranks among the top punters in NFL history in yards per punt (46.5) and net average (41.7).

Morstead, who turns 35 next week, said he intends to keep playing — though he and his family will always make New Orleans their home. The Saints released him in part because of their severe salary-cap constraints and in part because he had a rare down season in nfl nike jerseys china

He was the highest-paid punter in the NFL at an average salary of $3.9 million per year but admittedly failed to live up to his standard of “elite consistency” in 2020 while dealing with an offseason back injury and an eye issue that bothered him for about a year and a half. But Morstead said that both issues have been corrected and that he’s confident he will play at a higher level going forward.4

Morstead was set to earn $3.5 million in salary and bonuses this year, with a cap charge of $4.5 million. He will still count $2 million in dead money against the salary cap.

The Saints, meanwhile, could potentially turn to second-year punter Blake Gillikin, who spent last year on injured reserve after an impressive offseason. Morstead gave Gillikin a strong endorsement while saying that he tried to impart as much wisdom and advice as he could to him last season.

“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude,” Morstead said during an emotional videoconference Thursday. “The experience I’ve had with the Saints — there’s not one part of it that I would complain about. The whole thing has just been outstanding. I’m obviously sad to be moving on from the team, but it’s not as if I haven’t prepared for this moment in a lot of different ways. But it is shocking.”

Morstead said he was surprised the Saints didn’t talk to him about staying at a reduced rate — but he said he has nothing but “love and respect” for how the team has treated him. And he said that last season “obviously didn’t meet any of the standards that I’ve set for myself in previous years.”

“Let’s just call it what it was,” Morstead said. “When you’re the highest-paid player at your position, the expectation is that you’re playing at an elite level. And I didn’t do that last year, and I think it was pretty clear to nfl jerseys china nike

“You know, I’ve never been the biggest boomer in the league. I’ve just always been a guy that relies on elite consistency. And I think it was pretty clear that was lacking this year.”

Nevertheless, Morstead adapted, using a more conservative approach, and helped the Saints set a record for the fewest punt return yards allowed in NFL history (a total of 46 all season).

Kicker Wil Lutz and cornerback Justin Hardee were among several Saints players to say thanks to Morstead and bid him farewell in messages on their social media accounts.

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