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James Hurst’s deal a low-risk, high-reward signing for the New Orleans Saints

James Hurst’s three-year deal a win for the Saints.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

On Monday, the first day of the free agency negotiation period, the New Orleans Saints continue to look inward and focus on player retention. Before re-signing quarterback Jameis Winston to a one-year deal, the Saints made an important move in retaining versatile offensive lineman James Hurst.

Hurst came to New Orleans last offseason, serving a suspension for the first four games. Once available, he became a valuable piece for the Saints’s o-line. He was credited with only two pressures allowed all season despite 168 pass blocking snaps. Unfortunately both were sacks, but that’s still a very good pressure to snap ratio.

Hurst’s contract comes in as a three-year $9M deal with $5M guaranteed and with a $3M signing bonus that prorates over the life of the deal ($1M charge per year). New Orleans also did it’s usual cap structure with a vet minimum first-year base salary. Meaning that despite the contract averaging $3M per season, Hurst’s first year cap hit will only be $2.075M.

That hit includes the $1M signing bonus proration and the $1.075M veteran minimum salary for 2021. His next two season’s hits will total 3.425M in 2022, and a largely non-guaranteed $3.5M with only $1M of dead money in 2023.

The contract will scale up as usual, but the only dead money that will remain by the final year of his deal is a third of his signing bonus.

Not a bad structure for the Saints, keeping around a guy that played three different primary offensive line positions and acted as the trusty sixth-man often throughout the 2020 season. After parting ways with Nick Easton and losing Cameron Tom to the Dolphins on a Reserve/Futures deal, the Saints maintain a staple in their offensive with a versatile and cost-effective sixth-man.

They also put on display, yet again, that they can sign the players they want to keep with the amount they’re willing to give despite what the overall salary cap situation may look like. Seeing them continue to make moves while also chipping away at their massive overage proved they had a very specific and precise plan. Glad to see Hurst was a part of it.

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