By Sofia Scekic
Ty Montgomery ’15, a former wide receiver and return specialist for the Cardinal, will join his fourth NFL team in six seasons. He was signed by the New Orleans Saints on Friday after the New York Jets did not renew his contract.
Montgomery made a name for himself at Stanford as a return specialist after his junior season, when he was named a consensus All-American. He led the nation that season with a 31.2 yard kickoff return average, scoring two touchdowns off kickoffs as well. He was also a reliable receiver throughout his four years on the Farm, totaling 172 receptions for 2,125 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the third round of the 2015 NFL draft, Montgomery’s rookie season ended quickly with an ankle injury in Week 6 after he was used primarily as a kick returner for the first six weeks of his professional career. With a very limited role in the early 2016 season, injuries to Packers running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks allowed Montgomery to emerge as the team’s starting running back by December. Developing into a dual-threat playmaker, he ended his second season with 457 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to complement his 44 receptions for 348 receiving yards.
His third season was marred by injuries as well, as broken ribs and a wrist injury landed him on injured reserve for the second time in three years by late 2017. Dynamic running back Aaron Jones captured the starting role by 2018, relegating Montgomery to backup rushing and receiving roles as well as the team’s main kickoff returner. In Week 8 against the Los Angeles Rams, with two minutes left in the game and the Packers down two points, Montgomery fumbled a kickoff in the end zone, allowing the Rams to clinch the win. He was reportedly told to take a knee in the end zone, so the team traded him to the Baltimore Ravens two days later in exchange for a 2020 7th round draft pick, which was ultimately used on Miami (FL) defensive lineman Jonathan Garvin.
Montgomery played six games with the Ravens in 2018, netting fewer than 200 rushing and receiving yards combined. He was not used as a kick returner either until the playoffs, where he returned six kicks for 106 net yards in the Wild Card Round. The Ravens released him in 2019, when he signed with the New York Jets. With a minimal role in the Jet’s struggling offense last season, he managed just 193 combined rushing and receiving yards.
The Saints, who run one of the most dynamic and creative offenses in the NFL under head coach Sean Payton and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, present a unique opportunity for Montgomery to show off his versatility and skill set to revive his career.
The Saints are known for using talented players in varied roles: quarterback Taysom Hill, who is also a former Green Bay Packer, has been used by Payton in all offensive skill positions and on special teams. Montgomery’s ability to play running back, receiver and kickoff returner gives Payton another multifaceted player to use similarly to Hill.
Additionally, after playing behind a stout Packers offensive line and catching passes from another future Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, the Saints offensive prowess will feel more familiar than last season’s Jets, who had a porous offensive line and raw second-year quarterback. Montgomery will join former Cardinal offensive guard and two-time Pro Bowler Andrus Peat on a New Orleans team looking to make a deep playoff push this year.
Montgomery is an underrated signing for the Saints, who have made a point to sign veteran players this offseason as they look to deepen one of the NFL’s deepest and most talented offenses for the 2020 season and beyond.
Contact Sofia Scekic at sscekic ‘at’ stanford.edu.