UDFA’s production on special teams helps Saints to record setting year in punt coverage
Fourth-year cornerback Justin Hardee only took one snap on defense in all of 2020, and even that snap did not come until Week 17. Instead, he primarily played on special teams in both kick and punt coverage as a gunner. He lined up on over 70% of special teams plays in all 11 games in which he was healthy, including both playoff games.
The undrafted free agent who originally signed with the Houston Texans has been one of the better and most consistent special teamers on the Saints during his four year career. It isn’t every UDFA that can change positions upon entering the NFL and stick around with a team for more than three years, but Hardee has done it. The Saints allowed just 52 yards of punt return yardage in 2020, the best in the NFL this year, after allowing just 60 yards in 2018.
When you set out goals and really go get em! I knew my way into this league was special teams and I was going to do whatever it took to just show I belong. To be apart of TWO of the best punt teams in @NFL HISTORY only allowing 60 yds a few years ago and now 52 yds is special ! https://t.co/dQLkS5imXK
— Justin Hardee Sr. (@jhardee_19) February 5, 2021
Hardee signed a 1-year $1.5 million contract last offseason, so he will need to be resigned if he is to remain a Saint in 2021. I would strongly recommend bringing him back, as he ahs been the leading member of the Saints terrific punt coverage team since arriving in New Orleans.
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