Well this will by far be the shortest day recap I have done so far especially with the way the day five recap is already shaking out (that one will include the Peat, Hardee, and Burton signings). But a pretty inactive Thursday in terms of announcements for the Saints. However, one piece of news rocked the entire NFL.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton tests positive for the Coronavirus
Saints’ HC Sean Payton tested positive for the coronavirus, he told ESPN on Thursday. Payton is the first person in the NFL world known to test positive for the virus.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2020
This is not a free agency move, so I will be brief. But this was easily one of the biggest pieces of news to come out of the organization so far this offseason. As the enemy Roger Goodell noted, it was only a matter of time before someone in the NFL circle was diagnosed. Unfortunately, the first was Sean Payton. According to Payton himself, he is doing well. No symptoms such as fever or cough and has only a handful of days of isolation ahead of him. Good news as Coach feels confident about his recovery.
Saints exercise Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk’s fifth-year options
The Saints have exercised the 2021 fifth-year options on CB Marshon Lattimore and OT Ryan Ramcyzk, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 20, 2020
These are the first members of the 2017 draft class to have their options picked up. Under the new CBA, these are fully guaranteed. Two easy decisions.
In a move that should surprise no one, both Saints 2017 first-round picks remain under team control through 2021. They become the first two players of their draft class to have their options picked up. This is a big move for the Saints as both contracts are now fully guaranteed under the new CBA, not just for injury and they are the team’s future for their particular units.
Lattimore was the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year and has been the Saints’ lead corner since being selected out of Ohio State. He took another step forward in 2019 heading back to the Pro Bowl. Lattimore was often knocked for taking a step back in his sophomore campaign, but bounced back well last season.
Ramczyk has yet to be selected to a Pro Bowl, but was given First-Team All-Pro honors last season. That is decidedly more impressive in many books. He will continue to be a fixture along the offensive line for some time.
Both of these star players will also be looking at hefty extensions after next season, but the option price tags will hopefully be substantial enough for both to be happy in 2021 before their extensions fully kick in come 2022 (when most of Brees’ cap is clear).
As for the price tag for the options, they will be determined later but thankfully for New Orleans, both Lattimore and Ramczyk were selected outside of the top ten. Top ten picks will receive an average of the top ten contracts at their position. As for picks 11 through 32, they get the average of the 3rd through 25th contracts. Those averages outside of the top ten for the 2016 class were around $9.95M for CBs and near $10.35 for OTs
Former Saints receiver Keith Kirkwood signs with Panthers
Former Saints’ WR Keith Kirkwood is signing a 1-year deal with the Carolina Panthers, where he will reunite with his college coaches from Temple, per the Katz Brothers. Saints did not tender Kirkwood and he had four interested teams, but chose Carolina.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 19, 2020
The only restricted and exclusive rights free agents maintained by New Orleans were Taysom Hill, J.T. Gray, and Zach Wood. That left Keith Kirkwood and others out on the market. It makes sense to see Kirkwood head to Carolina where not only is he familiar with new starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but also Head Coach Mike Rhule who once coached Kirkwood at Temple. The former Saints gets a one-year deal in Charlotte.
Related NFC South News
Outside of the Kirkwood signing, it was a pretty slow day elsewhere across the NFC South on day four, but do not worry. It spices up in day five.