The Saints don’t really have many options left for restructures to free up the necessary cap space, leaving only three options: 1) releasing a player, 2) trading a player(s), and/or 3) extending players. Setting aside scenarios one and two for now considering how many holes are left remaining on the team and how obvious the third scenario is, let’s look at simple extensions.
I'd start keeping an eye out for a Marcus Williams extension soon. https://t.co/pKkWsknXN0— Christopher Dunnells (@ChrisDunnells) June 2, 2021
An extension to a player like Marcus Williams, playing on a one-year franchise tag at a 2021 cap hit north of $10.5 million would be more than enough alone to allow the Saints to sign their draft class and add in another free agent or two this offseason. In theory, there isn’t a technical deadline for rookies to sign with the team that drafted them. Technically, a rookie could refuse to sign a contract all together and re-enter the draft pool the following year.
If the Saints want their rookies to participate in training camp, their 2021 draft class will need to be under contract by the time camp starts up in August. That means the Saints will likely need to pull the trigger on an extension with one if its extension candidates by the end of July in order to, at minimum, sign their draft class.
Marcus Williams presents other problems.
His franchise tag only allows for an extension to be worked out with the team on or before July 15th. Considering the hard deadline of July 15th, working out an extension in the next couple of weeks with Marcus makes the most sense for both sides, and it’s probably safer to assume a Marcus Williams extension pre-July 15th is what helps free up the draft class money needed by the end of July.
But if an extension comes in for a player like Marcus Williams, when might we see an extension for players like Ryan Ramczyk or Marshon Lattimore?
Looking at recent history, the Saints have a track record of working out extensions right up until the season starts.
In 2019, Michael Thomas and the Saints announced their five-year extension on July 31st. Alvin Kamara and the Saints finalized their five-year extension on September 12th in 2020. Four days later - the day before the NFL season kicked off for the Saints - Demario Davis and New Orleans agreed to a three year extension on September 16th.
Because an extension for someone like Marcus Williams alone would free up enough cap space for all of the Saints pressing needs in 2021, there wouldn’t be pressure for any other immediate extensions. If I had to guess, I’d say it would be later in the summer - maybe even into September - before we would see another extension for a player like Ryan Ramczyk, assuming Marcus Williams is extended before his July 15th deadline.
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