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Blake Grupe to start at kicker for New Orleans Saints after trading Wil Lutz

Nikki Chavanelleby:Nikki Chavanelle08/29/23


Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

By executing a trade with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints have essentially named rookie kicker Blake Grupe as their starter for the 2023 season.

The Saints shipped veteran Wil Lutz off to Denver to be with his long-time former head coach Sean Peyton. Adding Lutz, the Broncos also released former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher.

Barring one injured season, Lutz spent seven years in New Orleans after coming out of Georgia State. Last season, however, Lutz made just 74.2% of his field goal attempts, which was a career low for him.

Now, the Saints are ready to go ahead with the rookie Grupe. Grupe hit a 50-yarder for New Orleans over the weekend versus the Texans, going 2-3 overall. Versus Kansas City in the first weekend of the preseason, he hit a 31-yard game-winner. Then, against the Chargers, he went 2-for-2 on field goals and made one extra-point attempt.

The Saints also moved on from veteran cornerback Bradley Roby on Tuesday. The move was confirmed by the former Ohio State star in a message on social media.

“Good (luck) to my brothers and the Saints fans y’all deserve to be winners!” Roby wrote on Twitter.

Roby has played nine years in the league and spent the last two seasons with the Saints. In his two years with the team, the cornerback played in 27 games and totaled 59 tackles, 10 passes defended, and an interception.

Saints kicker mistaken for fan

Saints rookie kicker Blake Grupe had the “welcome to the league” moment of a lifetime after he happened to drill the game-winning field goal for New Orleans against the Kansas City Chiefs.

It wasn’t until after the game that Grupe shared a funny story on his Twitter page. He shared that he was questioned for his credentials when he was walking onto the field in pregame warmups. Then, even after he hit the game-winning kick, he was stopped by security thinking he was a fan while he was walking out of the player exit.

Grupe began his college football career with the Arkansas State Red Wolves, before hitting the transfer portal and playing for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in his final season. He was excellent on extra points, connecting on all 49 attempts last year, finishing with a career average of 97.2 percent.

Over the years, he’s been less consistent with field goals, connecting on 74.3% of those for his career. Grupe’s best season came in 2019, when he drilled 86.4% of his field goals in 2019. He also had a career-long of 50 yards.

On3’s Wade Peery contributed to this report.