Fleur-De-Lis Fever | Saints Make Another Head-Scratching Roster Move

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Fleur-De-Lis Fever | Saints Make Another Head-Scratching Roster Move
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Death, taxes, and Kevin Houser snapping the ball on special teams for the Saints.

Now, you can forget about that last one.

Yesterday, the New Orleans Saints announced that they parted ways with long snapper Kevin Houser.

Houser was a seventh round pick by the Saints in 2000 out of Ohio State.

Normally, this wouldn't make much in the way of headlines but considering that Houser was the longest tenured Saint and seemed to have done everything to keep his job, this move comes as a surprise.

Houser's 144 NFL games rank him fourth on the Saints all-time list.  More impressively, those 144 games are all consecutive. 

He was scheduled to break Jim Dombrowski's team record of 148 in week six at home against the New York Giants.

Houser was one of four Saints who were a member of at least two division-winning teams (Fred McAfee, Joe Horn, and Steve Gleason are the others).

When I learned yesterday that Houser had been cut, I figured the Saints had signed someone younger to take his place.

Enter Jason Kyle—a 14-year veteran.

Huh?

This is just the latest in a number of head-scratching moves made by management that has directly affected the special teams.

In 2007, the Saints said goodbye to kicker John Carney after six seasons with the Saints.  The Saints wanted a younger kicker with a stronger leg.

Except for one of the more infamous missed extra points in league history, Carney was a very dependable kicker for the Saints.

The Saints then proceeded to trade for Olindo Mare. 

Sure you remember him.  He was the guy the Saints traded for because of his strong leg.  The guy who made just one out of six field goals beyond 50 yards the previous season in Miami

The guy who the Saints cut after 13 games.

Then came Martin Gramatica and Taylor Mehlhaff.

The Saints signed Gramatica near the end of the 2007 season to replace Mare.  Gramatica was efficient in the final three games making all five field goals and all eight extra points.

The Saints then drafted Mehlhaff in the sixth round of the 2008 draft to compete with Gramatica for the starting job.

In a mild surprise, the Saints kept Gramatica, the guy who hadn't completed a full NFL season since 2003, over the fresher, younger Mehlhaff.

The Saints cut Gramitca after five games.  Twice Gramatica missed field goals that would have tied the game or put the Saints ahead late in games.

They re-signed Mehlhaff but cut him after three games due to the fact that he wasn't getting enough depth or height on his kickoffs.

The Saints then turned to Garrett Hartley.  He looks to be a keeper—that is until the first preseason game.

By they way, that old kicker they cut, Carney, made the Pro Bowl last year with the Giants.

The Saints have had a similar turnover with punters.

They went through Steve Weatherford and Ben Graham before settling on Glenn Pakulak.

In eight games, Pakulak averaged 47.7 yards per punt and had a long of 70 yards.

Then, right on cue, the Saints traded up in this year's draft to pick punter Thomas Morstead out of Southern Methodist University in the fifth round.

So far, most of the club's special team's moves have not worked out. 

General manager Mickey Loomis gave no explanation for Houser's release except that he wishes him well.

If there are any major blunders on special teams this season—a blocked punt or kick or a bad snap—and the blame will fall squarely on management's shoulders.

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