The early season shuffle in the linebacker core for the New Orleans Saints continued on Wednesday. Kaden Elliss was moved to Injured-Reserve, opening a spot on the roster. That spot was filled with a familiar face, as Stephone Anthony was signed as a free agent to rejoin the Saints for his second stint in New Orleans. Anthony will have a much different role this time around, likely being brought in primarily for special teams. He played for two seasons in Darren Rizzi’s special teams unit with the Miami Dolphins, so his familiarity with both the system and some former teammates should allow him to step right in to contribute.
Anthony was drafted with the #31 overall pick in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft. That pick came over to New Orleans, along with Max Unger, in return for Jimmy Graham and Saints’ 4th round pick in March 2015. The former Clemson Tiger had a phenomenal rookie season, racking up 112 tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception, while starting all 16 games. He had three games with 10+ tackles.
In 2016, Anthony was moved from middle to strongside linebacker, a position he had never played, and his production took a giant dip. Due to injuries and inconsistency, he struggled to stay on the field, playing in only 10 games. The second year pro recorded a mere 16 tackles and finished the year on IR.
Two games in to the 2017 season, Anthony was traded to the Miami Dolphins after barely making the 53-man roster and not seeing a single snap during the team’s 0-2 start. In return, New Orleans received a 5th round pick in 2018, which eventually became part of a package of picks that went to Green Bay, helping the Saints draft Marcus Davenport.
In 2017 with the Dolphins, Anthony appeared in only 8 games, recording just 14 tackles. His sub-par season led to Miami declining his 5th year option for the 2019 season. In the final year of his rookie contract in 2018, he played in all 16 games and saw 353 special teams snaps for Rizzi, recording 7 tackles.
As a free agent, Anthony signed with the Atlanta Falcons on July 26, 2019 and appeared in the team’s first three preseason games, recording 5 tackles. He was cut on August 18th. On August 20th, he signed with the New York Jets for their final two preseason games, but saw no action and was released on August 31st. After nearly a month off, he officially became a Saints, once again, on September 25th.
As for Kaden Elliss, it is an unfortunate end to his rookie campaign after making the team as a 7th round draft pick out of Idaho. He injured his knee against Seattle last week and although nothing official has been stated, yet, many believe it is a torn ACL. Elliss earned his spot on the 53-man roster after an impressive Training Camp, recording 23 tackles in preseason action. All 48 of his snaps through the first three games of the regular season came on special teams, with one tackle against the Los Angeles Rams.