Operating as a key fill-in player for the Saints over the past two years, Nick Easton is back in free agency. The Saints released him Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
New Orleans signed Easton two offseasons ago and used him as a starter in 15 games over the past two seasons. The Saints, however, have one of the worst salary cap situations in history and must continue to make moves to get under a 2021 cap that is expected to be reduced.
The Saints will save $5.87MM by making this move. This marks the second straight offseason in which New Orleans released one of its interior O-line starters. They cut Larry Warford last year. Easton finished his second Saints season on IR and did not play in either of their two playoff games.
Coming into the offseason, the Saints were more than $100MM over the projected 2021 cap, but Drew Brees‘ recent restructure — one likely to precede his retirement — helped bring that figure down near $70MM. The Easton move will continue the franchise’s process in trimming salary.
While Warford and Easton are now gone, the Saints have invested highly on their offensive line in recent years. They used a first-round pick on Cesar Ruiz last year and extended Andrus Peat. Center Erik McCoy‘s rookie deal runs through the 2022 season.
Following his release from the Vikings in 2019, Easton signed a four-year deal worth $22.5MM with the Saints. Injuries continued to move the veteran swing man into New Orleans’ starting lineup. Pro Football Focus was not particularly high on Easton’s work, ranking him outside the top 50 among guards in each of his two seasons. But given teams’ annual interest in proven offensive linemen, Easton should not have too much of an issue finding work for next season. For his career, the 28-year-old former UDFA has made 32 starts.
The Saints also cut tight ends Cole Wick and Jason Vander Laan. Both players opted out last season. Unlike Easton, neither has vested-veteran status.