Four members of the Saints’ loaded 2017 draft class remain on the team, though only Alvin Kamara is locked up beyond this season. The Saints have Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams signed this year, via the fifth-year option and the franchise tag.
New Orleans has until July 15 to extend Williams this year but holds uninterrupted negotiating rights with Ramczyk and Lattimore until next year’s legal tampering period. As of now, the Saints’ extension queue looks to have Ramczyk at the top. The standout right tackle is the team’s top priority to retain long-term, Jeff Duncan of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
The prospect of Ramczyk and Lattimore extensions surfaced in March, but Saints GM Mickey Loomis managed to slash the team’s payroll under this year’s reduced cap with the option prices and Williams’ tag on the books. An extension would obviously give the team some additional room, but Duncan notes Terron Armstead‘s status complicates Ramczyk’s situation. With Armstead going into his age-30 season and in a contract year, Ramczyk is also a candidate to move to left tackle in 2022 — if the Saints do not extend Armstead.
Given the gap that has formed between left tackle and right tackle salaries — a $5MM gulf between the highest-paid left and right tackles — the Ramczyk extension talks will be interesting. Lane Johnson‘s $18MM-per-year deal, agreed to in 2019, remains the only right tackle contract north of $14MM annually. A three-time first- or second-team All-Pro who at 27 is four years younger than Johnson, Ramcyzk is certainly a candidate to bridge the left tackle-right tackle gap.
The urgency to reach an extension pact this year does not seem to exist with Lattimore, Duncan adds. The Pro Bowl cornerback is two years younger than Ramczyk and has been a key piece in the Saints’ defensive turnaround of the past few years. Although Lattimore was arrested earlier this year, he has been a four-year starter and could land on the franchise tag radar in 2022. Since Lattimore first became extension-eligible after the 2019 season, the cornerback market has changed considerably. The market went from no players earning more than $16MM annually to five making that much; Jalen Ramsey and Marlon Humphrey now earn north of $19MM per year. This spike in corner salaries should complicate Lattimore talks.