The feel-good story of New Orleans Saints fan favorite Jay Richardson — a licensed insurance salesman who ended up on the team’s active roster after being cut at the conclusion of training camp — may be over for real this time.
The Saints on Tuesday released Richardson, an outside linebacker/defensive end, and signed free-agent defensive end Keyunta Dawson, according to the NFL transaction wire.
Dawson played three games with the Tennessee Titans in 2012 but ended up on injured reserve with a hamstring pull. This year, his second with Tennessee, he played two games on defense (as a situational pass rusher) and special teams before the team released him on Saturday to promote quarterback Rusty Smith from the practice squad.
Smith is backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick, who started in place of injured quarterback Jake Locker in the Titans’ 26-17 loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The 6-foot-3, 258-pound Dawson, a native of Shreveport, entered the league in 2007, when the Indianapolis Colts picked him out of Texas Tech in the seventh round of the draft.
Richardson, 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, spent training camp with New Orleans (5-0) but initially didn’t make the team, though he gained some attention in the preseason exhibitions by recovering a fumble and getting a couple of sacks. The Saints re-signed him heading into Week 2 to add depth to a defensive front that’s dealt with a number of injuries.
Who Dats on social media threw their support behind Richardson as he was attempting to make an NFL comeback. He was with the Oakland Raiders for his first three years in the league and the Seattle Seahawks for part of a fourth prior to washing out in 2011. He helped start an insurance company in Columbus, Ohio, and was working there before joining the Saints.
The former Ohio State player saw 16 snaps of action on defense in New Orleans but didn’t record a statistic. After his release, Richardson went on his Twitter account and thanked Saints fans who rooted for him.
“I’m sure our paths will cross again,” he wrote.
Dawson, who also hasn’t recorded a statistic, joins a defensive line that had five players available in a win at Chicago on Sunday: nose tackle John Jenkins and defensive ends Cameron Jordan, Akiem Hicks, Glenn Foster and Tom Johnson. Defensive ends Brodrick Bunkley and Tyrunn Walker missed the contest with injuries.