Jose Maltos was a bit of a surprise release with the receiver position dropping like flies. Evidently the luxury of having a two kicker battle in preseason was not something the Saints felt they could afford after so many wide outs went down. Or maybe it was never really that much of a competition to begin with. Unless the Saints sign another kicker, Garrett Hartley won't have to look over his shoulder for the first time in his career. He can finally feel secure about being the man.
Maltos, a rookie out of Mexico, was widely considered a threat to Hartley's job security. He was lauded for having a "live leg" by Sean Payton, and having nice accuracy throughout his college career in Mexico. The Patriots apparently tried hard to get him as well, but Maltos preferred New Orleans because of it's proximity to his home. Many felt he had as good of a shot at making the team as an undrafted rookie as any other rookie on the roster. So his release coming now, before he could even get a real shot at kicking in live preseason games, is a bit of a head scratcher. Hartley has apparently looked pretty good in camp, though, and Maltos has been struggling since camp started. He's been routinely missing from 40 yards plus in simulated practice kicks, and perhaps the Saints didn't foresee this being much of a threat to Hartley after all. I'm hoping this release is more about how good Hartley looks as oppose to how bad Maltos looked, but Hartley has had a few shanks of his own in training camp as well. The overall report on Hartley so far this summer has been real positive, though.
Hartley had to feel good going into training camp that his competition, for once, wasn't against a decorated veteran that rarely misses (even if his birth dates back to prehistoric times) in John Carney or John Kasay. He has to feel great that now he has no competition at all. Part of that is an indictment of the health at receiver (and linebacker), but part of that is a vote of confidence in Hartley. We don't need a kicker battle… we trust you, you're our guy. A similar message has been delivered to Thomas Morstead for years, and Justin Drescher more recently as well. It's nice to see Hartley feeling job security, something he hasn't benefited from in his career. Hopefully he will be able to kick more freely, and better, without the pressure of looking over his shoulder.