The Saints entered the offseason significantly over the cap, but they’re already starting to create some breathing room. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the Saints created $26.217MM in cap space by reworking the contracts of wideout Michael Thomas and offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
Specifically, they converted $14.56MM of Thomas’ 2022 compensation and $18.20MM of Ramczyk‘s upcoming compensation into signing bonuses. The Saints entered the offseason a projected $74MM over the cap, but they have the ability to open a significant chunk of money (with some estimates saying they could save $100M via restructures). In other words, this is surely just the beginning for New Orleans’ front office.
Thomas led the league in receptions in 2018 and ’19, but following a disappointing 2020 campaign, the veteran receiver missed the entire 2021 season. Despite Thomas upsetting Saints brass by delaying an offseason ankle surgery last year, he remains in the team’s 2022 plans. While this does not necessarily guarantee the veteran pass catcher will be with the Saints next season, the team could certainly use him following an underwhelming season from the team’s other non-Alvin Kamara pass catchers.
Ramczyk was a first-round pick by the Saints in 2017, and he’s started all 73 of his games through his first five years in the NFL. The Saints inked the lineman to a five-year, $96MM deal (including $60MM in guaranteed money) last offseason.
With three quarterbacks currently unavailable for Monday Night’s matchup with the Dolphins, the Saints are expected to start the rookie fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame, Ian Book. As we reported earlier this morning, New Orleans also made the move of signing Blake Bortles as a contingency plan behind Book.
With the losses, the Saints will continue to operate with a depleted roster, like every other NFL team this year. The Saints’ lineup now lacks the likes of regular starters like Winston, Hill, Jenkins, Ramczyk, Davis, kicker Wil Lutz, tackle Andrus Peat, tight end Adam Trautman, and wide receiver Michael Thomas. Although they look like a shell of the team they could be at full strength, the Saints, along with the rest of the NFL, will continue to work to make the most of a bad situation as they currently sit only two spots outside of the final Wild Card spot with a 7-7 record, losing the tiebreakers to current 7-seed Minnesota and 8-seed Philadelphia.
December 3rd, 2021 at 10:08am CST by Zachary Links
The Saints have restructured Ryan Ramczyk‘s contract (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Now, the right tackle will have a portion of his base salary converted into a fully guaranteed roster bonus for 2022. The move will provide the Saints with an extra $242K in cap room for this year.
Ramczyk inked a five-year, $96MM extension with the Saints over the Summer, a mega-deal with $60MM in guarantees. The original agreement also gave the Saints some sorely needed breathing room — his fifth-year option would have carried a hit of $11MM for 2021; the extension tamped it down to $5.5MM. The restructure lowers the hit even further, allowing the Saints to bring in outside help if even more injuries arise.
Ramczyk’s $19.2MM AAV positions him as the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle. It was something of a no-brainer for the Saints — Ramczyk won’t turn 28 until April and he’s performed as one of the best blockers in the league throughout his career.
Unfortunately, Ramczyk has been sidetracked by injuries this year — both he and Alvin Kamara were held out of last night’s game to the Cowboys, a 27-17 loss that dropped the Saints to 5-7 on the year.
Alvin Kamara managed three limited practices for the Saints this week, but the Pro Bowl running back is not set to return for Thursday night’s game against the Cowboys.
The Saints are planning to rule out Kamara and tackles Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk for another game, Ian Rapoport and Jane Slater of NFL.com note (on Twitter). This will be Kamara’s fourth straight absence.
New Orleans did not put Kamara on IR, keeping him on its active roster in hopes he would not need a three-week absence. The knee injury the fifth-year back suffered in early November, however, has resulted in by far the longest absence of his career. Prior to being held out of the Saints’ Week 10 game, Kamara had only missed four games in four seasons.
Without Kamara, the Saints are 0-3 this season. They have lost four consecutive games. Although Taysom Hill is in line to replace Trevor Siemianas the Saints’ starter, the dual-threat quarterback will be without essential personnel against the Cowboys. Armstead and Ramczyk, who have formed a top-tier tackle tandem since 2017, are also battling knee injuries. Armstead is a free agent at season’s end, while the Saints have locked up Ramczyk and Kamara long-term.
Kamara led the NFL with 21 touchdowns last season, helping the Saints stay in gear despite Michael Thomas missing extensive time. Thomas will not play at all this season, and after Kamara’s 840 scrimmage yards had him on pace to set a new career-high, the latter Saints playmaker will fall well short of that mark this season. Although Drew Brees‘ retirement was going to make an impact regardless, injuries have limited the Saints considerably this season. They rank 18th in scoring offense and are looking likely to finish outside the top 10 in points for the first time since 2010.
The Saints now have a third offensive lineman signed to a high-end extension, with Ryan Ramczyk joining Terron Armstead and Andrus Peat as well-paid starters on a team with five first-rounders on its starting O-line. Multiple interesting details surfaced about Ramczyk’s deal Friday.
This five-year, $96MM pact will reduce Ramczyk’s 2021 cap number by $5.55MM, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Previously set to play on a fifth-year option salary worth just more than $11MM, Ramczyk’s cap number is down to $5.5MM. The Saints now have $11.4MM in cap space, according to OverTheCap, putting them 15th in the NFL in early July. They have come a long way from being more than $100MM over the cap earlier this year.
One component of Ramczyk’s deal generates intrigue about New Orleans’ future at the tackle position. The contract includes a $1MM bonus should Ramczyk be named a first- or second-team All-Pro at left tackle, Yates tweets. If Ramczyk earns this bonus, his salary balloons by $1MM in each subsequent year. He has earned first- or second-team All-Pro honors three times in four seasons at right tackle. While $6MM in incentives would be available, it would seem Ramczyk would not have a chance to trigger this escalator until at least 2022. Armstead is a free agent next year.
The Saints drafted Ramczyk in the 2017 first round, after he started 14 games at left tackle for Wisconsin. The former Division III recruit played one season of Division I football and has started all 63 games of his career at right tackle. Although the Saints invest highly in O-linemen and have consistently found ways to skirt salary cap trouble, having both Ramczyk and Armstead on top-tier tackle contracts would be an interesting scenario.
Armstead’s $13MM-per-year deal voids in March 2022, making him a free agent. The longtime Saints left tackle will turn 30 later this month, but Trent Williams just set a tackle record with a $23MM-per-year deal just ahead of his 33rd birthday. A Pro Bowler in each of the past three years, Armstead will be aiming high on his third contract. Williams is one of four left tackles whose deals surpass Ramczyk’s.
Regardless of which tackle position Ramczyk will settle at long-term, he is tied to the Saints through 2026. A $19MM signing bonus is part of Ramczyk’s $60MM in guarantees, and Yates adds the first two salaries on this backloaded deal will be $1.7MM (2021) and $10.5MM (’22). Ramczyk will make $14MM in base salary in 2023, with the rest of his salaries being north of $17MM. The deal’s final two years are non-guaranteed, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk noting the 2023 and ’24 seasons feature partial guarantees.
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.
The Saints now have another member of their impact 2017 draft class committed long-term. Ryan Ramczyk agreed to terms on a five-year, $96MM extension Wednesday morning, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
This megadeal comes with $60MM in guarantees, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter), and will tie Ramczyk to the Saints through the 2026 season. This checks a key offseason box for the Saints, who now have Ramczyk and Alvin Kamara signed to top-market deals from their 2017 class.
Ramczyk’s $19.2MM AAV makes him the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle. He eclipses the Eagles’ Lane Johnson, who held this distinction for nearly two years. Ramczyk’s $60MM guarantee also surpasses Johnson’s ($55MM). Among right tackles, only Ramczyk and Johnson have guarantees surpassing $35MM.
Extending the All-Pro blocker loomed as New Orleans’ top offseason priority, even though Marshon Lattimore is also going into a contract year. With Ramczyk locked down, it will be interesting to see how the Saints proceed with the Pro Bowl cornerback. Lattimore (Round 1) and Marcus Williams (Round 2) are in contract years from the ’17 class. The Saints let breakout pass rusher Trey Hendrickson (Round 3) defect to the Bengals in free agency.
The Saints chose Ramczyk with the pick acquired in the first Brandin Cooks trade (No. 32 overall, from the Patriots) and plugged the Wisconsin prospect into their starting lineup opposite Terron Armstead. Ramcyzk became a quick study and has started all 63 games he’s played as a pro. While the ex-Badger blocker is without a Pro Bowl, that is not uncommon; right tackles are often overlooked for such honors. Pro Football Focus graded Ramczyk as a top-10 overall tackle in each of his first three seasons and slotted him first in 2019. Last season marked a step back, via PFF, but Ramczyk still graded 20th among edge protectors.
Ramczyk, 27, proved vital during Drew Brees‘ final seasons and will certainly play a pivotal role in Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill‘s success under center. The Saints, whose entire starting O-line consists of former first-round picks, now have Ramczyk, Armstead and guard Andrus Peat signed to veteran contracts. Armstead, however, is due for free agency in 2022. Moving Ramczyk to left tackle after this season could be a viable scenario, should the Saints move on from Armstead. Ramczyk’s average salary would rank fifth among left tackles.
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.