Terron Armstead is like a lottery ticket: it may bring you riches galore and happiness ever after, but it’ll more likely leave you disappointed, with only your dreams to hold on to. The problem here is that lottery tickets are usually cheap, while Armstead signed a 5-year, $65 million contract with the Saints last year, one that saw him pocket $38 million in guaranteed money. That’s a lot of green for a player who, despite being immensely talented, has played in only 40 out of 64 games since the Saints drafted him out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2013.
Armstead’s 2016 season is hard to rate. The Saints’ starting left tackle played in only seven games, yet he made the most out of his 397 snaps, as Pro Football Focus ranks Armstead as the 21st tackle in the entire NFL with an 84.1 grade. Armstead has been praised for his athleticism, which allows him to be great in pass protection by using his quickness. Last year, out of 78 ranked NFL tackles, Armstead was 11th in pass blocking, with an 86.6 grade, all while playing with a bad knee and quad. When you consider that these grades are adjusted to the number of snaps, this is a remarkable reminder of how good Armstead is when he is healthy and why the Saints made him a very rich man in May of last year.
On the other hand, Armstead struggled in run blocking last season, ranking 42nd in the league with a 72.4 grade. This is an aspect of his game that the 25-year old tackle must improve as his NFL career blossoms.
While Armstead was oft-injured in 2016, second-year player Andrus Peat, his replacement at the left tackle position gave the Saints something to think about. Peat finished a decent second NFL campaign last year when he ranked 44th out of 78 rated tackles according to PFF. Although he got beat at times by strong blindside pass rushers, Peat more than held his own when he was out there and with the improvement he showed from his rookie year to last season, it seems reasonable to expect that he’ll keep getting better.
Because Terron Armstead is starting to show a bit of an injury-prone nature, it may not be a bad idea for the Saints to let Andrus Peat become increasingly comfortable at the left tackle position and create an open competition between the two men for the position of Drew Brees’ blindside protector. As crazy as it would’ve sounded just a short season ago, Andrus Peat could enter the 2017 NFL season as the starter at left tackle for the Saints. As a wise man once said: “availability is the best ability,” and as of late Terron Armstead has not always been there when the Saints have needed him. On the other hand, Andrus Peat has not only played a lot (1039 snaps in 2016), he has played pretty well. If it came down to a training camp competition between these two talented tackles, you can quote me as saying: may the best man win!