Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro benched amid trade talks

As trade winds swirl around New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro, the starter ended up benched midway through Sunday's loss to the New England Patriots.

Vaccaro played just 45 of 72 defensive plays (63 percent), per Next Gen Stats. Coach Sean Payton cited needing to get more "consistent" play out of his safeties as the reason for benching the former first-round pick.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that the Saints spent the early portion of last week shopping Vaccaro. Payton didn't deny the team was willing to part with their big-hitting safety, saying, "It's not unusual early in the season for teams to call about" players at positions of depth, via ESPN's Mike Triplett.

Vaccaro is in the last year of his contract, and the Saints don't appear ready to sink money into the 2013 No. 15 overall pick.

Vaccaro said he wasn't given an explanation for the benching. The safety had an interception wiped away just before he was banished to the sideline after he was called for holding Rob Gronkowski on the play.

"I know Gronk had two catches on me, really great catches, and that was about it. That's all that really happened. The next thing I know, I'm sitting next to Coach Payton," Vaccaro said. "I took full responsibility [for last week's struggles]. I had bad eyes on a couple plays, and I took responsibility for that. I didn't know that was gonna overflow into this game until all of a sudden I was out," Vaccaro said. "Listen, I've been here for the last four years, and we haven't played up to par on defense. And I understand how it goes. Obviously I've got to be better in my preparation, gotta be more consistent ...

"I didn't understand this game what happened at all. But at the same time, I take full responsibility for that and just gotta keep on, gotta keep pushing."

Vaccaro was replaced by Vonn Bell, who started 14 games last season but had his gig swiped by second-round pick Marcus Williams this summer. The Saints also have veteran Rafael Bush as a depth option should they move on from Vaccaro.

After two lifeless performances from a re-made Saints defense, big changes are in order. Benching Vaccaro permanently could be the first. Shipping him out of New Orleans might be the next move.

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