There are a handful of interesting position battles to watch as the New Orleans Saints head into mini camp - long snapper, wide receiver, defensive line, and nickel cornerback just to name a few. When a team signs a veteran in free agency to fill an obvious void on the team, big things are expected of him. It could then be viewed as a poor signing if that player fails to beat out a rookie drafted in the second round that same year.
Such is the case with Nick Easton and why Bleacher Report named him as the Saints’ player with the most on the line at training camp:
Max Unger, who anchored the New Orleans Saints offensive line for four seasons, retired this offseason. The Saints organization responded by signing Nick Easton to a four-year, $22.5 million free-agent deal.
What looked like an easy transition won’t be. The Saints also traded up in this year’s second round to draft Texas A&M center Erik McCoy.
”He’s one of those players that in the process stood out,” head coach Sean Payton said of the rookie, per 247Sports’ James Parks. “See his strength on tape in each game. Really had a high grade on him. Played at obviously a high level of competition. See the consistency. Just a lot of things to like with the player.”
According to The Athletic’s Larry Holder, McCoy has already received plenty of first-team reps, while Easton has filled in at right guard for the absent Larry Warford.
Easton signed with New Orleans to be a starter, but he may have to settle for being the Saints’ sixth lineman.
If Easton is the starter, does that mean McCoy was a bust? If McCoy is the starter, does that mean the Saints whiffed on Easton’s free agent signing?
It’ll be interesting to see if McCoy or Easton is the Saints starting center come Week 1 of the 2019 regular season, but it’ll be even more interesting if - assuming no injuries - the player who starts Week 1 is the same who starts at center come the end of the season.