What the Saints should do during the 2021 NFL offseason

NOLA Saints (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NOLA Saints (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Step Four: Extend/Trade Offensive Tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead

Something that Drew Brees was constantly able to rely on was tremendous protection from his offensive play, and it all starts with the tackle duo of Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead.

By all measures, they have solidified themselves as the best tackle duo in the NFL, which is something that they likely take pride in.

With Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson venting about a lack of protection, the Chiefs cutting both of their tackles, and the Jaguars franchise-tagging mid-tier tackle Cam Robinson, it is clear that teams are constantly searching for players at the position.

However, offensive tackle is generally not an area where you need to be elite at, if you subscribe to positional value. After all, you don’t extra rewards for a “big-time” block. Do you pay a bodyguard extra for being flashy when protecting you, or simply protecting you?

This is a great way to think of offensive line play. The gap between average protection and below-average protection is substantial, but the same isn’t true between the gap elite protection and average protection.

When you add in the recent development of mobile quarterbacks that hold onto the ball long an invite pressure but work out of the pocket, as well the quick-passing game, it’s clear that building in the trenches has it’s limits; if you have receivers that can gain instant separation, a lot of the pressure on an offensive line is alleviated.

Additionally, sacks are mainly a quarterback statistic, and if that’s the case, what good is there to have elite offensive line production?

Obviously, you’d love to have an elite offensive line, but the costs of doing so are massive with how the NFL values offensive tackles. So, why not zig while everyone else zags? The amount of value that Armstead and Ramczyk could net in a trade at a time where practically every team is desperate for an offensive tackle would be substantial.

Could the Saints engage in a pick swap with the Bengals (pick No. 5) to secure a franchise quarterback like Justin Fields? Would a team give up multiple high picks for one of these players? That is something they HAVE to look into.

At the same time, given how difficult it is to get even competent play from offensive tackles, particularly with how much they are paid, there is some logic in extending these two players; they both aren’t under contract beyond this year.

Doing so would allow them to structure their money in a way that gives them immediate cap space, while both theoretically have several high-end years ahead of them.

Unless the Saints are knee-bent on contending next season, I’d like to see them trade at least one of these tackles, given the value they would bring back; they could then always attack the proton in the draft and look for massive surplus value on a rookie contract.

At the end of the day, though, they shouldn’t be kept on their current contracts. Not having immediate cap space or future certainty makes little sense, particularly for a team in transition.

Who would these tackles be protecting in 2021 should they be retained? That leads us to our next step.