He was an undrafted free agent following the 2020 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, Callaway appeared in 11 games, started three, and caught 21 passes for 213 and no touchdowns.
While one of the receptions was Drew Brees‘ 7,000th completion, Callaway had a relatively quiet rookie year.
But now it appears as if Callaway is ready to be a real contributor this season.
Showing Up In A Big Way
He has been gaining praise for his play all offseason and has reportedly been the Saints’ “top dog” at wide receiver.
Fun watching Marquez Callaway really take ownership of being the top dog at receiver right now. Playing with so much confidence.
— Luke Johnson (@ByLukeJohnson) August 6, 2021
Pretty high praise for a sophomore receiver who wasn’t drafted.
But with Michael Thomas suffering an injury, Callaway has had an opportunity to vault himself up the team’s depth chart.
Thomas is reportedly out anywhere from 12-16 weeks with an ankle injury.
Upon his return, Thomas will likely return to his spot at the top of the receiving depth chart.
But for now, it appears that Callaway has that role all to himself.
It was none the more evident than in New Orleans’ Week 2 preseason 23-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Callaway caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns.
He was the only receiver on either team to eclipse 100 yards receiving.
He was also the only receiver on either team to catch five or more passes.
Callaway’s first touchdown catch came early in the first quarter.
JAMEIS WITH A DOT TO MARQUEZ CALLAWAY 🎯
— ESPN (@espn) August 24, 2021
He beat two defenders, took a pass interference penalty, and still held on for the touchdown.
His soft hands, body control, and ability to battle for 50/50 balls was on full display.
Plus, Winston’s confidence to throw to Callaway in that situation clearly shows the rapport the two have built throughout the offseason.
Callaway’s second touchdown grab came in the final minutes of the first quarter.
He did it again: Marquez Callaway and Jameis Winston is a 🔥🔥🔥 connection.
Callaway was an undrafted free agent in 2020. He's going off tonight. pic.twitter.com/aOPXq1caUD
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 24, 2021
This time, Callaway beat one defender via his speed and made a nifty one-handed catch to stay in bounds for the score.
Again, for Winston to trust him in that spot speaks volumes.
With that relationship in place, Callaway was able to show off his play-making abilities and show why he could be the Saints’ leading receiver sans Thomas this season.
When in college at Tennessee, Callaway never had eye catching numbers.
He caught 92 passes for 1,646 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He never had more than 37 receptions, 635 yards, and six touchdowns in a single season.
However, Callaway made some noise at the 2020 NFL Combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) February 28, 2020
Callaway also had an impressive 17.9 yards per reception in his four years at Tennessee.
He was never expected to be much; him going undrafted showed how NFL teams viewed him.
But now, Callaway has gotten his opportunity and run with it.
He has proven to have a strong connection with Winston, who looks poised to the be the team’s starting quarterback, and has proven he can be a play-maker all over the field.
Time will tell when Thomas actually returns to the field.
But for now, Callaway has shown that he has what it takes to help lead the Saints passing offense in their first year without Brees.