Terron Armstead

Saints’ OT Armstead Will Need Offseason Surgery

In their first matchup against the Buccaneers on Halloween, Saints’ offensive tackle Terron Armstead suffered a knee injury. While the knee has bothered him and caused him to miss some time this season, a tweet from Saints’ reporter Nick Underhill unveils the bigger story on the injury.

Underhill reports that Armstead’s knee injury will require surgery to repair. Armstead is able to play through the injury and has chosen to do so, but the surgery is going to be necessary for him to get back to 100%.

The implication here is that the surgery was serious enough to have prevented him from playing for the rest of the year. Armstead made the choice to put the surgery off until the offseason with the hopes of helping his team push towards the postseason.

Armstead provides an example of a player putting the success of his team over his own goals. This is accentuated by the fact that this is a contract-year for Armstead. In a time where Armstead could be looking out for himself and getting healthy to prepare for an offseason of free agency, Armstead has chosen to play through his injury for as long as he can continue to contribute.

The Saints currently sit at (7-8), good for 10th in the NFC, but have not yet been eliminated from playoff contention. They sit one game back of the current 6th and 7th seeds of the NFC, the 49ers (8-7) and the Eagles (8-7), with two weeks left in the season. New Orleans finishes the season against the Panthers at home and the Falcons on the road as they attempt to keep themselves alive for some football past January 9th.

Saints’ Alvin Kamara To Miss Week 13

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 Siemian as 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.

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Saints Move Chauncey Gardner-Johnson To IR, Activate Ken Crawley

The Saints will be without one of their secondary starters for a stretch. They placed Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on IR. The young defensive back is down with a foot injury.

Although Gardner-Johnson may be known more for inducing punches from wide receivers at this point in his career, the third-year defender has been a key presence in New Orleans’ veteran-laden secondary. The former fourth-round pick has started seven games for the Saints this season, working in multiple capacities — including the slot position.

Gardner-Johnson has made 26 tackles, one sack and an interception this season. The Saints have fellow corner/safety hybrid P.J. Williams capable of manning the slot as well, and the team activated veteran Ken Crawley off injured reserve Saturday.

Crawley has been with the Saints for most of his career, beginning with the team in 2016, but has played just one game this season. In addition to his IR stay, Crawley spent two weeks on the Saints’ reserve/COVID-19 list.

New Orleans also promoted wide receiver Kevin White from its practice squad and waived defensive lineman Christian Ringo. The team also promoted offensive lineman Will Clapp ahead of its Week 10 matchup with Tennessee. The Saints are set to be without left tackle Terron Armstead against the Titans.

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Saints’ Terron Armstead To Miss Time

Saints left tackle Terron Armstead will miss several weeks with an elbow injury (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Armstead will likely land on the injured reserve list, but it’s not believed to be a season-ender. 

The injury forced Armstead to exit early from Sunday’s victory over the Patriots. It’s somewhat familiar territory for the 30-year-old — he’s never played a full 16-game slate as a pro.

Armstead has been with the Saints for his entire pro career. He’s served as New Orleans’ starting left tackle for the last eight seasons, performing as one of the best left tackles in the league. Armstead earned a Pro Bowl nod for his work last year, his third straight accolade.

In the meantime, the Saints will use James Hurst in Armstead’s stead. They’ll also keep their fingers crossed for center Erik McCoy, who has not played since the season opener.

Armstead is currently on course for free agency next spring, where he’d be one of the top players available. The Saints would ideally like to keep him, but they’d have to top Trent Williams‘ megadeal while the rest of the league bids with an increased cap of about $210MM.

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Saints Planning To Let Terron Armstead Test Free Agency?

The Saints have continually prioritized their offensive line, which currently consists of four former first-round picks and ex-second-rounder Erik McCoy. They made a major tackle decision this offseason, however, and may be prepared to part ways with a longtime contributor in 2022.

New Orleans is planning to let longtime left tackle Terron Armstead play out his contract and hit free agency, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes. The Saints extended Armstead back in May of 2016; that five-year deal expires after this season.

Due to a contract restructure that introduced a void year into the equation, Fowler adds Armstead cannot be franchise-tagged. This would put the Saints to a higher-stakes decision, one that resembles the 49ers’ situation with Trent Williams this year. San Francisco paid up to keep Williams, signing the perennial Pro Bowler to an offensive line-record contract. At 30, Armstead is three years younger than Williams and will certainly aim high if he hits free agency for the first time.

This scenario playing out would not keep the Saints from re-signing Armstead. But they gave right tackle Ryan Ramczyk a top-market deal this summer; that $19.2MM-per-year pact came in much higher than Armstead’s 2016 extension ($13MM AAV). Ramczyk’s contract also contains an interesting provision. If Ramczyk earns first- or second-team All-Pro acclaim at left tackle, he earns a $1MM bonus and will see his annual salaries bumped up by $1MM.

The Saints could avoid that path by re-signing Armstead, but given Williams’ example, it will be difficult to keep the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle off the market. Fellow 2013 left tackle draftee David Bakhtiari raised the salary ceiling beyond $23MM per year on his 2021 extension, leading to Williams topping it. With the salary cap set to spike toward $210MM in 2022, Armstead will stand in a good position — barring a major injury setback this season — come March. Letting Armstead walk would also help the Saints plan a deal for McCoy, who will enter a contract year in 2022.

Armstead hitting free agency would make him one of the top players available. By trimming $100MM-plus in cap space and finding room for a Marcus Williams franchise tag, the Saints showed this year they will create space for players they deem essential. After extending Ramczyk and Marshon Lattimore, will they end up letting both Armstead and Williams walk?

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Saints Likely To Extend At Least One Of Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Williams

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.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 12/9/20

Today’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

  • Signed: K Lirim Hajrullahu

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers 

San Francisco 49ers

Washington Football Team

Terron Armstead Confirms Positive COVID-19 Test

Taysom Hill will not have his most accomplished blocker in front of him Sunday in Denver. Terron Armstead confirmed reports he has tested positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link).

Armstead learned of his positive test Saturday morning, putting him in line to next week’s game against the Falcons as well. The Saints will be without their starting left tackle and quarterback for a bit. They are already without left guard starter Andrus Peat.

A full-time Saints starter since his second season (2014), the former third-round pick has become one of the league’s best O-linemen. Armstead has served as a vital component of Alvin Kamara‘s breakthrough, making the past two Pro Bowls as the longest-tenured member of New Orleans’ high-end O-line.

James Hurst stands to be the next man up. The former Ravens starter has served as the Saints’ swing tackle this season, starting twice in place of standout right tackle Ryan Ramczyk.

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Saints Restructure Contracts Of Michael Thomas, Terron Armstead

The Saints are clearing up some cap space. New Orleans has restructured the contracts of receiver Michael Thomas and offensive tackle Terron Armstead, a source told Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football (Twitter link).

Underhill adds that they haven’t restructured Janoris Jenkins‘ deal yet, but that it’s a possibility moving forward. The Saints are clearly going all in on 2020 and one or two last rides with Drew Brees, and they’re trying to maximize this window. We just heard that almost all of the money going to Brees this year is a signing bonus in order to reduce his 2020 cap hit, and now they’re getting even more flexibility.

It’s unclear exactly what financial tweaks were made to Thomas and Armstead’s deals, although it’s likely they just had 2020 salary converted to signing bonus money to spread out the cap hits over the duration of their respective contracts. Thomas signed a massive five-year, $100MM extension last July that made him the highest-paid receiver of all time.

The record-breaking wideout is under contract through the 2024 season, and will be in New Orleans long after Brees finally hangs up his cleats. Armstead signed a five-year, $65MM extension back in 2016, and is signed through the 2021 campaign. He had $10.2MM in salary converted to a signing bonus in November of 2018 to create the cap space to sign Dez Bryant.

The Saints added another veteran player earlier today in safety Malcolm Jenkins, giving them more ammo for their 2020 run. With Tom Brady now in the division, the NFC South is about to get a lot tougher.

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NFC Notes: Armstead, Floyd, Cowboys

Terron Armstead missed only one game because of a high ankle sprain he suffered in November, but the Pro Bowl Saints tackle is also dealing with a wrist injury that may require offseason surgery. Armstead underwent a CT scan recently, and although it showed no broken bones or ligament damage, the seven-year veteran acknowledged an offseason procedure is not off the table.

As far as ligament damage, tendon damage, it’s more of a, ‘If it’s still feeling like this or you can’t pick up anything in two weeks, we got to go further,'” Armstead said, via NOLA.com’s Amie Just.

Although Armstead made the trip to Orlando for the Pro Bowl, he did not play in Sunday’s game. The Saints have their left tackle under contract for two more seasons.

Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • If the Bears do not release Leonard Floyd, he will be on their books for $13.2MM — once his fifth-year option vests. With Khalil Mack‘s cap number spiking to $26.6MM — from an $11.9MM figure in 2019 — that would mean the Bears would have approximately a fifth of their salary cap tied to two players. But Ryan Pace‘s indications thus far have been Floyd will be a Bear next season, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. If, in fact, the Bears do retain Floyd, it would seemingly behoove them to extend the 2016 first-rounder or restructure Mack’s deal to lower one of the pass rushers’ cap numbers. Floyd recorded just three sacks this season and has not eclipsed 4.5 since his 2016 rookie year.
  • Mike McCarthy hired a longtime coworker to join him in Dallas. The Cowboys are bringing in ex-Packers staffer Rob Davis to be an assistant head coach, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. A longtime NFL long snapper, Davis worked in the private sector over the past two years but served as the Packers’ director of player development from 2006-17.
  • Signs are pointing to the Packers letting linebacker Blake Martinez walk in free agency.