The New Orleans Saints cut Pro Bowl guard Larry Warford on Friday evening. While the move may have come as a surprise to some, the writing has been on the wall for months. Warford’s performance and relationship with the team deteriorated over the course of last season. That led to the Saints drafting guard/center Cesar Ruiz in the first-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, all but assuring Warford’s departure.
Many fans will ask why New Orleans didn’t attempt to move Warford, and the answer is quite simple. The Saints were very public about their displeasure with the guard, and the offensive line market never really developed this offseason. As such, teams who were interested in Warford knew they could simply sit back and wait for him to get cut and sign him to deal.
By cutting Warford, New Orleans has saved $7.75 million in cap space, and there are a few things the Saints could use that saved money on to improve the team. Here are a few ideas:
Sign DE Everson Griffen
The idea would be to add an impact player with the additional cap space saved. Griffen voided the final three years of his deal with the Minnesota Vikings this past offseason, and unfortunately for him the gamble hasn’t paid off. Griffen remains on the free agent market.
Griffin has experienced some off-the-field issues in the locker room which could be affecting his market. Jadeveon Clowney, arguably one of the best at the position, also remains on the market signaling that teams aren’t prioritizing defensive end. At this point in the offseason, Griffin may be amenable to taking a lesser deal to play for a legitimate contender. New Orleans could benefit from his presence on the defensive line. In 2019, Griffen recorded eight sacks, which would have been good for second on the Saints roster.
A one-year deal for Griffen to pursue a Super Bowl while also waiting for the market to reset next offseason could prove to be a beneficial move for both New Orleans and the defensive end.
Sign CB Eli Apple
This one is fairly simple. The Saints need help and depth at outside corner, and Eli Apple is not only familiar with the system, but is also looking for a job after his deal with the Las Vegas Raider fell through. New Orleans fans can easily think back to just a few years ago when the Saints had one of the worst secondaries in the league, and the offense had to shoulder the load.
A player like Apple as a depth piece would represent just how well built the New Orleans secondary is. Furthermore, assuming Marshon Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins will each go the full season without injury is wishful thinking. Apple would be waiting in the wings to fill in for his old role as a starting corner in the Saints system. Apple would likely return on a one-year “prove it” deal.
Extend RB Alvin Kamara
No matter who the Saints would have drafted or signed this offseason, the biggest point of contention was always going to be Alvin Kamara. The running back produced two of the best first seasons in the NFL for a running back when he had over 1,500 total yards in 2017 and 2018. His 2019 season was a different story as it was riddled by injuries and question marks about his performance with Mark Ingram no longer by his side.
There is one thing that cannot be questioned and that is Kamara’s talent. His versatility adds an extra wrinkle and dimension to the offense that cannot easily be replicated. Despite the running back position being labeled as “easily replaceable,” Kamara is anything but.
The running back should be a mainstay on the team for years to come, and will likely prove to be a player that a quarterback not named Drew Brees will come to lean on. Warford’s departure opens the door for a player to receive an extension. Based off of recent Saints extensions, the team pays a smaller amount of money upfront for cap hit purposes. This saved money could potentially be used to help lock up Kamara.
Extend T Ryan Ramczyk
This extension will happen, it’s just a matter of when. The $7.75 million in additional cap space due to Warford’s cut from the team won’t pay for the entirety of even one year of the new deal, but it would help make a dent. It all depends on how New Orleans prioritizes this extension over others. The plethora of young talent that the Saints currently have is a double-edged sword. On one hand their window is open right now, and bringing in talented veterans on short-term deals to help bolster the roster is possible. On the other hand, New Orleans cannot possibly keep all of its young superstars, and will have to decide who stays and who goes.
Ramczyk in not only the best tackle on the team, but arguably one of the best in the league. The Saints have made their money by employing one of the best offensive lines in the league, and that won’t change anytime soon. Don’t be surprised if New Orleans turns the cap space from the recently cut guard into an extension for the future of the tackle position.
How would you like to see the Saints use this cap space? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner