Joel A. Erickson of the Advocate noted the wideout was released with a failed physical designation, and Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com confirmed the news. The Saints went on to confirm the release on Tuesday.
Colston posted a message on his website regarding the news:
First, I want to thank the New Orleans Saints for providing me the opportunity to spend the last 10 years with such a first class organization. It truly is, and always will be, a dream come true for a young athlete out of Hofstra University.
To everyone from the Benson family, the front office, coaches, and the training and equipment staff: It has been a pleasure to be part of a family with so many great people. And to my fellow players: thanks to each of you for sharing this journey with me, challenging me to grow as a player, and an individual. It’s been an honor to work beside you, and as a team we achieved something that can never be duplicated – the first Super Bowl victory for NOLA.
And last but not least, to the most passionate fans in the world — the WHO DAT Nation — it has been my privilege to represent you on the field. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of something so much bigger than football in New Orleans. It has been amazing to witness first hand your passion and resilience, even in the face of adversity. Because of you, New Orleans will always hold a special place in my heart.
Colston was a question mark coming into the offseason for the Saints. He had two straight down seasons compared to his previously high standards in the team's pass-happy offense. He caught just 45 passes for 520 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.
The concern is the 32-year-old Colston's lackluster performance was a sign of decline rather than just a short-term issue. Add in the fact he was scheduled to count nearly $6 million against the cap in 2016, according to Spotrac, and New Orleans had a decision to make.
The problem for the Saints is they don't have anybody to fill his role. The team relied on a committee approach behind top target Brandin Cooks, and Colston provided value as a possession receiver—even if his impact had dropped from what it once was.
In December, Colston talked about how his situation had changed, as noted by Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
"It's a team game, and it always will be a team game," Colston said. "So whether I'm contributing with receptions or contributing in the run game or whatever it may be...it might be during the week helping the young guys out."
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The Saints decided they couldn't move forward with Colston and his contract on their roster. If there were talks behind the scenes in an effort to find common ground for a restructured deal, they must have been fruitless.
Last week, ESPN Stats & Info noted the salary-cap ramifications:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Releasing Marques Colston would save Saints $3.2M against 2016 cap; would also increase their total of 2016 dead money to NFL-high $25M.2016-2-23 20:46:06
While the team saved cap space, its decision to release Colston moved wide receiver higher on the offseason to-do list. Cooks and Willie Snead are solid options, but neither of them seemingly fit the role Colston filled for so long in New Orleans.
The Hofstra product should generate a fair amount of interest on the open market. Though some teams may shy away based on his recent performance, Colston's track record is strong enough that front offices with a need at the position will likely consider him.
A lot depends on what his preferences are as a free agent. He might have to decide between serving as a team's No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, joining a contending squad in a lesser role or simply taking the best monetary offer on the table.
Either way, after spending his entire career with the Saints, it's now time for Colston to see what else is out there.