The New Orleans Saints are releasing punter Thomas Morstead, according to multiple reports after Sports Overtime's Nader Mirfiq first broke the news. Morstead and QB Drew Brees were the last remaining roster holdovers from the Saints Super Bowl XLIV championship team of 2009. He kicked the famous and gutsy "AMBUSH" onside kick as a rookie in Super Bowl 44 against the Indianapolis Colts. New Orleans won the contest, 31-17 for the team's first Super Bowl championship.
Morstead told media, "The journey is not over for me....there's reason for optimism to return to the player he's been."
Morstead, who turns 35 on March 8, was signed for the next two years but would have cost $4.5 million against the salary cap this season. His release creates $2.5 million in cap space for the Saints, trying to get below the projected salary cap before free agency starts on March 17.
Morstead joined New Orleans as a 5th round pick in the 2009 draft out of SMU. Over twelve seasons with the Saints, he was one of the league's best punters, able to swing field position with either a booming punt or a precisely placed directional kick.
Morstead averaged 46.5 yards per punt in his career, the sixth-best average in NFL history. A back injury suffered in training camp and eye problems he disclosed after the season limited him to a career-low average of just 43.1 yards per punt in 2020. He improved during the year, but the Saints seem set to move forward with P Blake Gillikin, an undrafted rookie from Penn State last year.
Morstead worked closely with Gillikin in training camp last summer. His contributions to the New Orleans organization and surrounding community will be missed.