New Orleans Saints

Saints ink Sheldon Rankins, 2 other rookies; Ballard among cuts

 

DARRON CUMMINGS/ASSOCIATED PRESS 
 New Orleans Saints running back Vick Ballard is looking to get his injury-plagued career back on track.
DARRON CUMMINGS/ASSOCIATED PRESS New Orleans Saints running back Vick Ballard is looking to get his injury-plagued career back on track. AP

The current NFL collective bargaining agreement has taken a lot of the drama out of rookie contracts, subjecting every player to a scale that determines what the numbers will be.

And that means it's a lot easier to sign draft picks.

New Orleans announced Monday that the Saints have already signed first-round pick Sheldon Rankins, second-round wide receiver Michael Thomas and seventh-round running back Daniel Lasco to four-year deals.

Only second-round safety Vonn Bell and fourth-round defensive tackle David Onyemata remain unsigned, and both will likely be in the fold soon.

To make room for the rookies, the Saints released fullback Toben Opurum, running back Vick Ballard of Pascagoula and defensive end Phillip Hunt.

New Orleans drafted five players and added 19 undrafted free agents, bringing the total roster numbers to 93 and forcing three cuts.

Opurum, a fourth-year player out of Kansas, spent most of the season on the practice squad in 2015, but he was active for two games and played on special teams.

Hunt, a pass rusher who made his name in the CFL, also had a brief cameo on the Saints' 53-man roster, although he did not play in any games.

Ballard, a former Indianapolis Colt who played prep ball at Pascagoula High and college ball at Mississippi Gulf Coast and Mississippi State, was hoping for a shot to prove himself, but the Saints have a loaded backfield that got even more crowded when New Orleans drafted rookie Daniel Lasco in the seventh round.

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