Saints offseason overview: Offensive line
METAIRIE – One of the most important factors in the New Orleans Saints’ run of three consecutive NFC South championships has been the consistently high level of performance of the offensive line.
The Saints made sure that the starting unit remained intact for next season by signing left guard Andrus Peat to a five-year $57.5 million contract. Peat’s status as an unrestricted free agent had been the only threat to the continuity of the line.
Peat was as eager to stay in New Orleans as the Saints were to have him do so.
“There was some interest from other teams, but I always wanted to come back to New Orleans,” Peat said. “I’ve loved and enjoyed my time here. Ever since I was drafted here I wanted to play my whole career with the Saints. This is a first-class organization and a great locker room. I feel like we’ve been building something special over the past few years.”
Peat was a No. 1 draft choice in 2015 and started his career as a tackle before finding a home at guard.
“I’ve definitely settled in at the left guard spot,” Peat said.
His versatility has been one of his most valuable assets as Peat has played every position on the offensive line except center.
He has been limited by injury, never having played 16 games in a season and missing 10 games last season.
“I feel like it’s always tough when you miss an extended time with an injury,” Peat said. “I’m healthy now and just looking forward to this next season and just improving from last year.
“Injuries are a tough part of the game and it’s a realistic part of the game. When I’m out there, I don’t really think about if I have this injury. I just try to go out and play. It’s not a thing I really think about honestly. Yeah, I had some bad luck with injuries, but nothing too serious though.”
But Peat has also helped mitigate other absences to injury, most notably left tackle Terron Armstead, who hasn’t played 16 games in any of his seven seasons. Armstead has missed 13 games in the last three seasons and has mostly been replaced by Peat when injured.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I feel like I do that to contribute to the overall success of the team,” Peat said.
It’s no coincidence that the string of division titles coincided with the arrival of right guard Larry Warford in free agency and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk in the draft before the 2017 season.
The line was jolted by the sudden retirement of center Max Unger after the 2018 season, but the Saints traded up to draft Erik McCoy in the second round a year ago and he had a solid year as a rookie.
“We’ve built that continuity,” Peat said. “I’ve been playing with and next to Terron my whole career. Larry, Ryan and Erik are all really talented and great players. I’m excited to get back and keep building with this group and keep improving this year.”
Although the Saints have kept the starting unit in tact, they would still like to upgrade the depth on the line, which has been thin.
In a conference call this week, head coach Sean Payton mentioned depth on the interior line as “something we’ll pay close attention to.”
“We think this draft has got some really good options there,” Payton added.
The only reserve linemen on the roster are Nick Easton and former LSU standout Will Clapp, who play center and guard, as well as Ethan Greenidge and Derrick Kelly. Backup guard Patrick Omameh is an unrestricted free agent and center/guard Cameron Tom is a restricted free agent who was not tendered by the organization.
- < PREV More is less after NFL adds two playoff teams
- NEXT > Saints By Position: Top 5 safeties in franchise history
CCS/106.1 FM/Daily Iberian
Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…