Those distressing talks of the New Orleans Saints’ cap situation have thankfully died down, and as of now, getting under the cap feels like a foregone conclusion for 2022. Signing Terron Armstead could throw a huge wrench in those plans, and he likely wouldn’t be worth the financial trouble.
After restructuring the contracts of Michael Thomas, Andrus Peat, and others, the Saints are projected to be about $33 million over their projected 2022 salary cap.
This all bodes good news for team financials in 2022, but the Saints still haven’t made a decision about what to do with Terron Armstead or Marcus Williams, two of the most highly coveted pending free agents this offseason. While signing Marcus Williams could prove fruitful in the long-term, throwing money at Armstead could end up being the equivalent of flushing valuable cap space down the drain.
Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon listed one move every NFL team needs to avoid this offseason and cautioned the Saints against spending a big chunk of their salary cap on Armstead:
"The best-case scenario is an All-Pro tackle. The worst-case situation has become increasingly all-too-familiar… At the right price, Armstead is a worthy re-sign candidate for New Orleans. But his injury history is a legitimate factor too."
New Orleans Saints should not go all in on Terron Armstead this offseason
The key phrase in Kenyon’s blurb is: At the right price.
Armstead has appeared in just 97 of 145 regular-season games throughout his nine-year career, coming off a season that saw him play eight games due to injury. His Pro Bowl days aren’t too far behind him, but at 30 years old, he’s turned into an injury-prone liability on the front lines.
PFF ranked Armstead as the second overall top free agent in 2022 and projected him to command a three-year contract worth $60 million total. That lines up with his market value which stands at around $24 million per year, comparable to the contract of Titans’ tackle Taylor Lewan.
With many teams bidding for Armstead’s services this season, though, $24 million could become as much as $30 million per year — talented offensive linemen, after all, are almost impossible to come by on the open market.
Cincinnati, Jacksonville, and Miami all represent suitors with plenty of cap space who are desperate enough to pay a high price for a starting-caliber albeit injury-prone tackle like Armstead. The Saints are desperate, too, but they have a strict budget to work with, and 2021 taught them a hard but important lesson about what happens when starting tackles get injured.
After Armstead’s disappointing season and continued playability concerns, he may have outpriced his stay in New Orleans. As painful as the nine-year breakup may be, the team is better off looking for a developmental player with more upside to play in the trenches.
No one’s doubting Armstead’s talent and experience on the front lines, but the Saints should rightfully doubt his ability to stay healthy for future seasons. At Armstead’s high estimated market value, he simply isn’t worth an “arm” and a leg.