The New Orleans Saints said goodbye to a longtime and successful member of their franchise Thursday, and in doing so, they have opened the door for Penn State product Blake Gillikin to become the starter.
The Saints terminated the contract of punter Thomas Morstead, who had been with the team for 12 seasons (second-longest tenure on the club behind only Drew Brees). Morstead was highly successful for a long time with the club, and forever will be remembered for this onside kick that helped New Orleans beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) March 4, 2021
Gillikin went undrafted out of Penn State in 2020, signed with the Saints and spent the season on injured reserve with an alleged back injury.
The move allowed the Saints to keep Gillikin around. By releasing Morstead, the team will save about $2.5 million in salary cap space.
Gillikin will be a much cheaper option, and the team must believe enough in him to turn the future of the position over to him. Gillikin, of course, will have to do enough to earn the job between now and the start of next season, but he is the frontrunner to do so in New Orleans.
— Blake Gillikin (@blakegillikin) March 4, 2021
Here are a few tidbits about Gillikin from Saints Wire:
Gillikin had an impressive career as a four-year starter at Penn State, averaging 43.0 yards on his 239 punts. He was exceptional at pinning teams inside the 20 with high, well-placed punts, something that should serve him well in the NFL.
A good bit of the reaction Thursday on Twitter about Gillikin centered around his mullet, which always drew a lot of attention during his PSU career. This tweet pretty much sums up the reaction:
One #Saints cap move not getting mentioned a lot is Thomas Morstead. Had easily the worst season of his career and New Orleans has a punter ready and waiting in Blake Gillikin.
One fun stat about Gillikin 53 punts inside the 10 at Penn State.
One fun pic: Great Mullet pic.twitter.com/1YeEQHzeJH
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) February 1, 2021