December 28th, 2021 at 10:43am CST by Zachary Links
The Saints have converted Marshon Lattimore’s $500K Likely To Be Earned (LTBE) All-Pro incentive into a roster bonus for 2022 (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The move provides the Saints with an additional $500K in cap room for the current year while guaranteeing Lattimore’s bonus, whether or not he earns All-Pro honors.
Lattimore, 25, was named to the Pro Bowl just last week, his fourth nod in five years. Given his quality work, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him capture All-Pro honors for the first time in his career this year. Through 14 games, Lattimore has 62 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery while allowing a stingy 54.8% completion rate.
Historically, Pro Football Focus hasn’t always been high on Lattimore. In 2020, PFF’s metrics give him a 59.1 overall grade, good for just 70th out of 121 qualified players. This year, it’s a different story. The Ohio State product currently ranks 15th in the league with a solid 75.9 mark.
Yesterday’s ugly loss to the Dolphins dropped the Saints to 7-8, but they could still manage a Wild Card spot with wins over the Panthers and Falcons.
Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore has cleared up the legal matter that was hanging over his head. Lattimore, who was arrested in March and charged with possessing a loaded handgun that was believed to be stolen (a fourth-degree felony), recently pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of failing to promptly inform officers that he was carrying a concealed handgun, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes. The felony count was dropped as part of the plea deal.
Triplett points out that Lattimore has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The 25-year-old DB was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for multiple traffic violations, and he did not tell the officers that he had the gun until they asked. Lattimore’s attorney, Marcus Sidoti, said his client was unaware that the gun was stolen.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the matter is still being reviewed by the league office. But now that the criminal case has been resolved, one would think that a decision as to whether Lattimore will face any sort of punishment under the NFL’s personal conduct policy will come fairly quickly.
The Saints were clearly not too concerned about this incident, as they handed Lattimore a record-setting contract extension in September. Pro Football Focus has not been particularly high on the Ohio State product since his rookie campaign, and that trend has continued this year. PFF’s metrics give him a 63.6 overall grade, good for 54th out of 118 qualified players. Still, Lattimore is viewed in a different light by New Orleans brass, and as the club’s CB1, he is often matched up against an opponent’s top receiver.
He chipped a bone in his thumb in the Saints’ Week 1 win over the Packers, missed Week 2 as a result, and played a few games with a cast. On the season, the three-time Pro Bowler has 42 tackles, one interception, and 11 passes defensed.
Lattimore was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation and was required to pay a $1K fine.
September 13th, 2021 at 8:59am CST by Zachary Links
What a day for Marshon Lattimore. The Saints’ star cornerback suffered a thumb injury against the Bucs on Monday night and will need surgery (via PFT). Of course, this all came hours after he agreed to a five-year, $97.6MM extension with New Orleans.
Lattimore mostly played through the pain with a cast on his right hand and finished with three tackles and one pass defensed. Still, he’ll need the issue corrected before he retakes the field. For now, he’s considered week-to-week, but the Saints could consider a short-term injured reserve stint pending the outcome. That would allow Lattimore to return after three missed games and retake the field in Week 5.
Fortunately, it’s a minor injury, and Lattimore has all the fiscal security he could ever ask for. His new five-year re-up furnishes him with $97.6MM and $44MM in full guarantees, a record for defensive backs. The deal also includes $68.3MM in overall guarantees and incentives that can take him up to $100MM.
Without Lattimore, the Saints will lean on recent pickup Desmond Trufant for support.
September 12th, 2021 at 7:07pm CST by Zachary Links
The Saints have locked up Marshon Lattimore. On Sunday, the Pro Bowl cornerback agreed to a five-year, $97.6MM extension including $44MM in full guarantees and $68.3MM in overall guarantees. Plus, through incentives, Lattimore can earn up to $100MM over the course of the contract.
With the new deal in hand, Lattimore has secured the most guaranteed cash of any cornerback or safety in NFL history. He was initially set to play out his fifth-year option — worth $10.2MM — before approaching free agency in the spring of 2022.
The 2017 first-round pick has started all 57 of his games as a pro, missing only seven possible contests on the whole. Meanwhile, he’s notched three Pro Bowl selections in four NFL seasons. That includes his debut year, when he earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Lattimore, 25, has 55 passes defensed and ten interceptions over the course of his career. He stands as one of the most feared young CBs in the league but, in the interest of equal time, it’s worth noting that the advanced metrics have soured on him somewhat. Pro Football Focus pegged him at a stellar 86.1 as a rookie, followed by scores of 77.5 (2018), 65.6 (2019) and 59.1 (2020).
Still, the Saints recognize his value and had no interest in letting him get away. Now, after helping the team to rank No. 5 in 2020 pass defense, he’s locked in for years to come.
The Saints crossed a key item off their 2021 agenda earlier today by agreeing to a massive extension with right tackle Ryan Ramczyk. With that deal done, New Orleans can now turn its attention to the contract situations of several of its other high-profile talents.
Katherine Terrell of The Athletic writes that the Saints are likely to extend at least one of CB Marshon Lattimore and S Marcus Williams this summer. As Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com tweets, the Ramczyk extension cleared roughly $5.5MM off the club’s books for the 2021 season, so a Lattimore or Williams extension isn’t necessarily vital for cap purposes (plus, since Lattimore’s fifth-year option for this season was already restructured, an extension for him wouldn’t create more cap room anyway). But both players are integral pieces of DC Dennis Allen‘s defense, and the Saints would certainly like to keep them for the long haul if they can.
The problem is that New Orleans is already projected to be over the 2022 cap of $208.2MM, and GM Mickey Loomis might not be able to re-sign both of his young defenders. Terrell says Lattimore has always seemed like the higher priority, and as he plays a premium position and has three Pro Bowls to his credit, he will certainly be more expensive. On the other hand, he does not always play up to his potential, and Pro Football Focus’ metrics considered him the 70th-best corner out of 121 qualifiers last year. A March arrest could also complicate matters.
Loomis, though, has more time to talk contract with Lattimore than he does with Williams. As a franchise-tagged player, Williams cannot sign a multi-year deal after July 15. Given the Saints’ cap crunch, there was a belief that the team would not be able to retain the Utah product this year, let alone hit him with a franchise tag that carries a $10.6MM cap charge. The fact that Loomis made the financials work might be an indication of the team’s long-term outlook for Williams, who did well to clean up his one glaring weakness (his tackling abilities) in 2020.
In addition to Lattimore and Williams, left tackle Terron Armstead is also entering a contract year (his deal automatically voids in 2022). Terrell says it’s unclear what the Saints have in mind for their longtime blindside protector, but he will not come cheap either. We just saw soon-to-be 33-year-old Trent Williams pull down a $23MM/year deal, and Terrell suggests that Armstead — who will turn 30 in a few weeks — could shoot for a similar figure. With Ramcyzk now carrying a $19.2MM AAV and left guard Andrus Peat working on a $15MM/year pact, that would be a ton of money invested into the O-line.
We heard earlier this year that the Saints could let Armstead walk next offseason and shift Ramczyk to left tackle, and Terrell says that remains a possibility. Still, one would think that New Orleans will at least have serious discussions with Armstead about continuing what has been a very fruitful partnership.
Here are the details from the latest contracts agreed to around the NFL:
Ryan Tannehill, QB (Titans): Tannehill’s restructured deal will pay out a $1.5MM base salary in 2021 and count $11.1MM against the cap, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Those numbers jump back up beginning in 2022, with Tannehill set to earn a $29MM base salary and count $38.6MM against Tennessee’s cap. In 2023, Tannehill is due a $27MM base and will be a $36.6MM cap hit. The Titans used two void years (2024 and ’25) to help create more than $15MM in cap space.
Marshon Lattimore, CB (Saints): Four years, $120MM, according to Yates (on Twitter). Like New Orleans’ Taysom Hilldeal, this contract is flush with void years and does not reflect true value. Lattimore’s fifth-year option ($10.2MM) will be spread onto the Saints’ 2021 and ’22 salary caps, with $2.841MM on this year’s cap and $7.403MM next year, according to OverTheCap. Lattimore remains under contract through 2021.
Ja’Wuan James, OT (Ravens): One year, up to $9MM. James will receive a $500K signing bonus but count just $250K toward Baltimore’s cap this year, Zrebiec adds. If James is on the Ravens’ roster on the fifth day of the 2022 league year, he will collect a $500K roster bonus. In that scenario, James’ 2022 base salary will be $2.5MM. He would then count $3.25MM against the Ravens’ 2022 cap. $5MM in incentives round out the deal.
De’Vondre Campbell, LB (Packers): One year, $2MM, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein (on Twitter). Campbell will receive a $1.1MM signing bonus and count $1.19MM against Green Bay’s 2021 cap. The Packers tacked on four void years, creating an $808K cap hit in 2022. The deal also contains $500K in playing-time incentives.
The Saints just knocked out a big order of business. New Orleans has signed their entire draft class to their rookie deals, as Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football tweeted.
To create the cap space necessary for these deals, the team restructured cornerback Marshon Lattimore‘s contract, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. They converted his “$10.2M fifth year option to a $990K base salary and the rest in a roster bonus with voidable years,” he reports. Rapsheet adds that the team will “keep working on an extension” with Lattimore.
The six-man draft class includes defensive end Payton Turner (first-round; Houston), linebacker Pete Werner (second-round; Ohio State), cornerback Paulson Adebo (third-round; Stanford), quarterback Ian Book (fourth-round; Notre Dame), offensive tackle Landon Young (sixth-round; Kentucky), and wide receiver Kawaan Baker (seventh-round; South Alabama).
It’s great they got this out of the way as the offseason starts to heat up with mandatory minicamps. The Saints had been in a terrible cap situation at the end of 2020, but GM Mickey Loomis has always been able to work some magic.
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.
Lattimore was booked into Cuyahoga County Jail. The Cleveland native was a passenger in a vehicle that was pulled over for multiple traffic violations, according to Cleveland Police, who also charged Lattimore for possession of a concealed weapon.
Lattimore’s attorney, Marcus Sidoti, called the matter a “misunderstanding.” The 24-year-old corner is expected to be released from jail Saturday morning, Triplett tweets.
The Pro Bowl defender is going into his fifth-year option season. With a $10.2MM cap hit on the Saints’ books, the team was interested in extending its top cover man. It is now possible Lattimore’s fifth season will include a suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy, though that is not a certainty at this point.
Continuing to make progress in their pursuit of cap compliance, the Saints have identified two higher-profile moves they would like to make. The team wants to extend Marshon Lattimore and/or Ryan Ramczyk, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link).
After trimming more than $20MM in cap space over the past week, the Saints are still nearly $50MM over the $180MM mark that doubles as the floor for the 2021 cap. Extensions for their 2017 first-round picks would help on this front, as they would reduce the 2017 draftees’ cap numbers. Each is set to play next season on a fifth-year option salary.
But it will be interesting to see if the Saints can hammer out a top-market extension amid this time crunch. Two extensions in this span would be highly unlikely. Both players are extension targets, but the franchise might be targeting just one in the coming days and potentially completing the other’s deal later. The Saints are not believed to be close with either Lattimore or Ramczyk, Rapoport adds.
The Saints completed top-market extensions for Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara late in the past two summers. Lattimore and Ramczyk qualify as players who will also push to secure their respective position’s top salary. Ramczyk is set to earn just more than $11MM this season; Lattimore is attached to a $10.2MM fifth-year option salary. The Saints have until March 17 to move under the cap.
Extensions for Tre’Davious White, Marlon Humphrey and Jalen Ramsey transformed a stagnant cornerback market last year; each earns at least $17MM annually. White and Ramsey pushed the corner ceiling north of $19MM per year. Ramczyk’s talks may be more complicated. Deals for Laremy Tunsil and David Bakhtiari — each now attached to deals worth at least $22MM annually — have left tackles holding a big lead on right tackles financially. Lane Johnson ($18MM AAV) and Trent Brown ($16.5MM) are the only right tackles making more than $14MM per year, and the Raiders are shopping Brown. New Orleans’ right tackle starter since his 2017 rookie season, Ramczyk has been one of the NFL’s best tackles since his rookie year.