New Orleans Saints re-sign special-teams ace J.T. Gray to two-year deal

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a two-year deal with special-teams standout and backup safety J.T. Gray.

Gray, who was named second-team All Pro in 2019, was scheduled to be a restricted free agent after originally signing as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2018.

The Saints' special-teams units have been a huge part of their success during their current run of four straight NFC South titles. But many of their core special-teams players are unrestricted free agents this year, including Craig Robertson, Justin Hardee and Dwayne Washington.

The Saints will be severely restricted by the NFL's reduced salary cap this year. They will need to carve out a projected $60-70 million in cap space over the next two weeks through player releases, contract restructures and extensions, among other avenues.

The Saints also released veteran tight end Josh Hill on Wednesday and formally voided the contract of pending free-agent tight end Jared Cook.

Hill, 30, spent eight years with the Saints after being undrafted out of Idaho State in 2013. He has 116 career catches for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns. Beyond that, he was highly valued for his versatility as a blocker who could play multiple positions and as a special-teams standout. Coach Sean Payton once said Hill was involved in so many parts of the offense that losing him during a game was like "losing your front door."

Hill was scheduled to earn $2.605 million in salary and bonuses in 2021, which will now come off of the Saints' books. He will still count for $750,000 in dead money against their salary cap.

Cook, who turns 34 next month, will count $2 million in dead money against the Saints' cap after his contract was slated to void before the start of the 2021 league year. Cook had two of the best seasons of his 12-year career in New Orleans, catching a combined total of 80 passes for 1,209 yards and 16 touchdowns.