The Saints are acting fast in their effort to replace Max Unger. They made the winning offer to sign Nick Easton, according to the lineman’s agent (Twitter link).
Easton will sign a four-year, $24MM deal with the Saints, Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio reports (on Twitter). Easton had been considering the Saints, Vikings and another team and had hoped to sign by Monday. While the NFL originally disapproved Easton’s deal with New Orleans over a minor incentive issue, the league has since officially announced the transaction.
Indeed, the Saints will install Easton at center, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Easton played both center and guard with the Vikings, his most recent season coming at guard. Easton missed all of 2018 with an injury. This $6MM-per-year pact represents a strong deal for a player who has not suited up since December 2017. A fractured ankle ended Easton’s 2017 season early, and a neck injury sidelined him throughout 2018.
This will add another veteran contract to New Orleans’ offensive line payroll. Easton Terron Armstead and Larry Warford up front for the Saints, and Andrus Peat is due to make more than $9MM this season on his fifth-year option. With 2017 first-rounder Ryan Ramczyk in place at right tackle, the Easton deal continues the franchise’s significant investment on its offensive front.
That has paid off in the recent past, however, given what Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram have achieved. Set for his age-27 season, Easton will now be involved in blocking for Kamara and former teammate Latavius Murray. While the Saints have been high on backup Cameron Tom, per The Athletic’s Larry Holder (via Twitter), a near-future promotion does not appear to be in order. Tom will likely stay on as a reserve option next season.
The Vikings submitted an offer to keep Easton in Minnesota, and the interior lineman’s defection is a blow to a less acclaimed offensive line. A UDFA out of Harvard, Easton started five games at center for the 2016 Vikings and was a 12-game starter in ’17.
Minnesota has not made any additions up front yet, despite this area being a major problem for last season’s underwhelming team. The contracts of Mike Remmers, Tom Compton and Brett Jones expired after last season, thinning out Minnesota’s guard options considerably. Josh Kline, however, recently appeared on the Vikings’ radar.
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