The Saints placed two former high-round draft picks on injured reserve before their Week 15 game, a bad sign for both players coming off a difficult years.
The Saints placed starting free safety Malcolm Jenkins on injured reserve after he was ruled out during the week because of a right hamstring injury. Also done for the season is offensive tackle Charles Brown, who started three games this season but was lost to a knee sprain against Oakland and has not played since.
This move ends both their seasons. Jenkins' a mix of huge plays including game-saving tackles in Tampa Bay and glaring gaffes and shortcomings in pass coverage and poor tackling. Overall, it has been a degradation for Jenkins and the whole of the Saints' defense in the first year of Steve Spagnuolo's system.
Brown, once a sub for injured starting right tackle Zach Strief, ceded that job to free agent pickup William Robinson.
To fill their spots on the roster, the Saints promoted undrafted rookie safety Jerico Nelson and second year offensive lineman Ricky Henry.
Jenkins' poor showing in 2012 sets up a crucial season for him in 2013, the final year of his rookie contract. The Saints must choose whether to keep Jenkins at a cap value of nearly $4 million in 2013. Releasing him would still incur $1.5 million in prorated cap charges.
Brown, a second round pick in 2010, has started 8 games in three seasons. His 2012 was a marked improvement from terrible outings in the past and especially in preseason action. Brown will also enter the final season of his rookie deal in 2013, though he is likely to remain a Saint because his cap value is roughly $825,000. Strief is expected to return in 2013, though starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod will be a free agent this offseason.