Saints Sign Round 1 T Taliese Fuaga

Seeing their tackle situation create a dire need entering the draft, the Saints benefited by that deficiency forming this year. This draft produced one of the highest-regarded tackle crops in years, and New Orleans indeed addressed the position in Round 1.

The player the Saints chose, Taliese Fuaga, is now under contract. The Saints signed the Oregon State alum Thursday. This will lock in Fuaga through the 2027 season, with a fifth-year option included that would cover the 2028 campaign. Fuaga’s four-year deal is fully guaranteed. Fuaga is the first Saints draftee to sign this year.

Having done well to fortify their O-line under Sean Payton, the Saints saw their early-2020s plan go sideways when 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning struggled early. The Saints have been unable to count on Penning, due to injury and underwhelming play, leading to early-season changes at the position last year. Their primary left tackle in 2023 — longtime guard Andrus Peat — signed with the Raiders earlier this week. James Hurst, the team’s regular LT from 2021-22 and LG starter last year, retired just before the draft. New Orleans’ All-Pro right tackle, has hit a career crossroads thanks to a nagging knee issue. Ramczyk is uncertain to play in 2024.

This year’s tackle class played into the Saints’ hands, with Daniel Jeremiah’s big board slotting seven tackles among the top 25 prospects. Fuaga became this draft’s fourth tackle taken, going off the board at No. 14 — after Joe Alt (No. 5), JC Latham (7) and Olu Fashanu (10). While Fashanu is not a lock to start for the Jets in Week 1, the Saints’ situation points to Fuaga being needed immediately.

Ahead of their weekend rookie minicamp, the Saints have not indicated if they view Fuaga as a left tackle or a player who will continue his career on the right side. Oregon State slotted Fuaga as its starting RT from 2022-23; he did not allow a sack in 25 starts at the position. Fuaga earned consensus first-team All-American acclaim last season, establishing himself as a first-round prospect.

Buzz about the Saints eyeing Fuaga emerged weeks before the draft, and New Orleans finished off this year’s run of offensive prospects. The Colts snapped that record-setting streak by choosing Laiatu Latu at No. 15. The Saints will bet on Fuaga filling their tackle need, though it will be interesting to see how New Orleans’ line looks come Week 1. As of now, only the positions of two starters — center Erik McCoy and right guard Cesar Ruiz — are known.

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