Sean Payton knows what the New England Patriots are getting in Travaris Cadet.
The New Orleans Saints head coach worked with the receiving back from the time he entered the league as an undrafted rookie in April of 2012, up until when he signed with New England as a third-year pro in March of 2015.
And at the league meetings in Arizona on Wednesday, Payton offered a brief scouting report on his former player, who’s now the newest of seven running backs with the Patriots.
“Number one, he’s a real smart player,” Payton told reporters of the 26-year-old Cadet. “He’s exceptional as a receiver. His ability to run routes other than just from the running back route tree, he is someone that can jump in the receiver line and run out-routes and run comebacks and actually has experience doing that.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Cadet accumulated 41 games of experience for New Orleans, factoring in as a gunner and returner on kickoffs, as well as into the offense a pass-catching option.
The latter part of his game was with him from the start of his tenure there, and it was seen both in and out of the backfield.
“When he came to us as a free agent in ’12, he came the first week or two and he was in receiver meetings and receiver drills,” Payton said of the Appalachian State, Pearl River Community College and Toledo product.
From there, Cadet went on to collect just 11 carries for 37 yards for the Saints. But behind the likes of Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson, he managed to collect his own spot on the 53-man roster while also collecting one in the passing game.
He was seldom featured for pass protection – something Payton estimates No. 39 participated in about a dozen times per season – but Cadet caught 45 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns during his Saints career.
He had 38 catches for 291 yards and one score last season.
“He’s exceptionally smart. He’s a great teammate. He’s someone we would have wanted to have back if were we not able to sign C.J. Spiller,” Payton said of the once-restricted free agent. “But I would say his hands and his football IQ are exceptional.”
Yet now, Cadet’s hands and football IQ are in Foxborough, where his first NFL touchdown took place on a pivot route in October of 2013.
Perhaps his third will take place there as well.