Most NFL teams build their offensive success with an effective offensive line. With so many elite pass rushers in the league, protecting the quarterback can mean the difference between a legitimate Super Bowl contender and a team sitting at home for the playoffs. The Saints have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL, and that dominance starts with an outside duo that establishes a physical tone up front. Today we have a look at that important position, and if it needs to be addressed this offseason.
Free Agents: Patrick Omameh (T/G)
Under Contract: Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk
The Saints possess the best offensive tackle tandem in the league with Ramczyk and Armstead. The two have shut down a Who's Who of NFL pass rushers over their three seasons together, helping quarterback Drew Brees operate confidently from a clean pocket. Ramczyk, the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 draft, has established himself as the best young tackle in the game. The 25-Yr old tackle was not credited with a single sack surrendered in 2019 on his way to first team All-Pro honors. Ramczyk sets the right side edge in the run game, is athletic enough to get outside quickly on screens, and all but eliminates opposing edge rushers. His contract is set to expire at the end of the coming season, although New Orleans does have a 5th year option. The Saints would more likely extend a deal to make him the highest paid lineman in the league.
Left tackle Terron Armstead is every bit Ramczyk's equal when it comes to ability and effectiveness. The 28-Yr old earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl bid while protecting Brees' blind side. While injuries have been an issue over Armstead's seven years in the league, he played in a career high 15 games this past season. A powerful and athletic lineman, Armstead is equally effective against both speed and power moves. Armstead is under contract for the next two seasons, giving the team the opportunity to lock up their elite tandem if they extend Ramczyk's deal.
Free agent lineman Patrick Omameh had surprising success filling in for Armstead when he was nicked up by injury. When Armstead has missed time in the past, the team would simply slide guard Andrus Peat over to tackle, but Armstead's injury in 2019 occurred when Peat was out with a broken arm. Peat is now an unrestricted free agent, and may be too pricey on the open market to retain. Other than undrafted second year lineman Ethan Greenridge, the Saints have little depth at tackle if both Omameh and Peat are lost in free agency.
Given the youth, skill, and contract statuses of Ramczyk and Armstead, it makes little sense for New Orleans to use a high draft pick or spend big free agent dollars at tackle. The Saints may bring in a seasoned veteran such as Michael Ola, who saw action with them in each of the last two seasons. Washington Redskins free agent guard Ereck Flowers would be a versatile offensive line addition. Flowers, like Peat, was a high draft pick in 2015 who fared better at guard than as a regular at tackle. Flowers would potentially be able to step in at tackle if needed though, in addition to checking off the Saints need for an interior starter.