New Orleans signed All-Pro offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk to a five-year, $96 million extension with a $19 million signing bonus and $60 million guaranteed on Monday, June 29. The deal creates around $5.5 million in cap space for the 2021 season, giving the Saints more to work with for extensions with other key players.
The deal also includes a $1 million incentive if Ramczyk is named to the AP All-Pro 1st or 2nd team at left tackle, meaning there would be more upside should New Orleans need to move him to the left side.
This would be the case if the Saints decide to move on from Terron Armstead next year. New Orleans has time to work on an extension with Armstead or potentially use the franchise tag on him.
Armstead, who turns 30 later this month, is someone the Saints should at least look to keep on a short-term deal. Having one of the best offensive tackle duos gives New Orleans serious playoff potential.
Safety Marcus Williams, on the other hand, is a player the Saints cannot afford to wait for. New Orleans placed the franchise tag on Williams in March, and the July 15 deadline to sign him to a multiyear extension is rapidly approaching.
While Williams’ deal is the most pressing time-wise, locking up cornerback Marshon Lattimore should be the Saints’ top priority on defense. Extending at least one of the two this summer is a likely outcome, according to Katherine Terrell of The Athletic, but New Orleans is already projected to be over the $208.2 million salary cap for 2022.
Lattimore is a three-time Pro Bowler at one of the most premium positions in the NFL. The current free agent market for cornerbacks is bleak at best, so keeping Lattimore would improve the team’s outlook moving forward.
Another player the Saints should have in their future plans is wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith. Smith, who looks to be New Orleans’ top deep threat this season, caught 59 passes for 1,171 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017 as a junior at UCF.
Quarterback Drew Brees’s declining arm strength took a toll on Smith’s overall production the last few seasons. At just 25 years old, the potential for Smith to see increased numbers across the board is there with Jameis Winston possibly under center. Smith is a prime breakout candidate in a season where we will likely see what he can really do with a stronger arm targeting him.