Saints: What Marshon Lattimore extension means moving forward

Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Coming off a dominant win against the Green Bay Packers, the New Orleans Saints have more good news to share.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Marshon Lattimore agreed to a five-year, $97.6 million contract extension after Sunday’s game. It marks the largest full guarantee ($68.3 million) at signing for any corner in league history.

Finally, Lattimore is getting paid as one of the highest-valued cornerbacks in the NFL, and it’s exactly what he deserves.

Lattimore is one of the last remaining veterans in the Saints’ cornerback group along with Ken Crawley. Recent addition Bradley Roby should be a dependable starter in Week 2, and rookie Paulson Adebo will continue to grow into the role expected of him.

But Lattimore’s extension, while solidifying his spot in New Orleans’ secondary for the future, only fixes part of the larger issue that is the Saints’ cornerback unit in 2021.

Don’t act like you weren’t thinking it: we all thought hell would break loose against Green Bay, when the Saints had to face one of the top passing offenses in the NFL, but that turned out to be a home blowout win.

You can imagine our relief, but the question remains: How long will this cornerback unit hold up?

Lattimore did his part on Sunday, notching three tackles and one pass defended in the victory. The Saints’ defense as whole outperformed a middling Packers offense that saw Aaron Rodgers complete just 15 of 28 passes for 133 yards and get subbed out of the fourth quarter of the game.

Rodgers’ partner-in-crime, Davante Adams, was also held to just five catches for 56 yards, largely due to Lattimore’s excellent pass coverage.

So Test No. 1 is in the books, and the Saints passed.

New Orleans Saints locked up cornerback Marshon Lattimore, but it isn’t enough

New Orleans clearly got their money’s worth in Lattimore and his contract was a long time coming, but this shouldn’t mean the end for the Saints’ developments at the position. The Saints shouldn’t be wiping their hands saying, “Well, that took care of that. We’re good for the future.”

After P-Rob’s retirement and Brian Poole’s injury, and given Crawley’s age, the Saints never found a capable starting corner in the offseason when they really should have.

Plus, Lattimore will need thumb surgery after suffering an injury on Sunday, and reports say he’ll be considered week-to-week.

That could mean Bradley Roby will be playing in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers without the three-time Pro-Bowler, and the Saints will once again be playing with really just one solid CB in the backfield. (Sorry, Adebo, you’re just not there yet.)

Assuming the very best case scenario in which no more injuries plague the Saints’ secondary, and Lattimore and Roby can tandem the starting corner unit for the rest of the season, the Saints would still be tempting fate.

Add any injury that causes either Lattimore or Roby to miss time, and New Orleans might not get so lucky as they did against the Packers.

Not to say that game was based on luck — the Saints defensive unit exceeded everybody’s expectations when they locked down Green Bay’s usually deadly offense.

But to play with one or two solid corners for a 17-game season is to play with fire, and New Orleans don’t want to get burned now when Jameis Winston is just starting to find his form and the team is trending upward overall.

4 takeaways from Saints blowout win vs. Packers in Week 1. dark. Next

Lattimore’s extension should just be one piece of the cornerback puzzle in place. If New Orleans truly want a stable secondary in the long-term, it should go without saying that they’ll have to invest in more than one player.