METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints' kicker competition just got three times more interesting. Or maybe 33 percent more interesting. Whatever the math is, they now have a rare crowd of three kickers on the 90-man roster after signing second-year pro Zach Hocker on Monday.
It doesn’t seem like the Saints are eager to replace Graham since they elected to re-sign him earlier this offseason when he was an unrestricted free agent. But they apparently want to keep their options open.
Graham, 37, seemed unfazed by the news when asked about it Monday at the Saints Hall of Fame golf tournament.
"I've been in every scenario you can imagine. So it’s nothing out of the ordinary for me," said Graham, who has spent time with 14 NFL teams in 15 seasons. "All I can do is take care of myself … perform my best and try to protect myself and win the job as best as possible."
Both Hopkins and Hocker auditioned for the Saints during a group tryout last season while Graham went through a brief struggle. noth are talented young kickers who were drafted (Hopkins in Round 6 by the Buffalo Bills in 2013 and Hocker in Round 7 by the Washington Redskins in 2014). Neither has won a job with a NFL team yet.
Hocker finished his college career as Arkansas' all-time leader in points by a kicker (354), field goal percentage (77.2) and made field goals (61). But he lost a close battle with Redskins incumbent Kai Forbath last summer. Hocker then signed a futures contract with the Miami Dolphins in January but was released earlier this month.
Hocker was one of five players to sign with the Saints after participating in this past weekend's rookie minicamp on a tryout basis. As previously reported, the Saints signed veteran receiver Josh Morgan. They also signed three undrafted rookies: Receiver Kyle Prater, offensive lineman Antonio Johnson and linebacker Henry Coley.
Prater (6-foot-5, 231 pounds) began his college career at USC before finishing at Northwestern. After a slow start, in part due to injuries at USC, he finished strong with 51 catches for 535 yards and two touchdowns last season.
Johnson (6-6, 307) was a four-year starter for North Texas, finishing as a left tackle.
Coley (6-1, 239) started 32 career games at Virginia with career totals of 222 tackles, 10 sacks and three forced fumbles. He was a second-team All-ACC selection by the coaches last season.
The Saints had one open roster spot heading into the weekend. To make room for the others, they waived guard Andrew Miller, who spent part of last season on their practice squad, and three undrafted rookies: Receiver Malcome Kennedy, offensive lineman Doniel Grambrell and linebacker Stephon Sanders. Kennedy was waived/injured.