On May 8th, the Saints cut starting right guard Larry Warford. There was a lot of negative buzz around him this offseason. Multiple sources saying the team was displeased with her performance. His PFF grade was the worst in his tenure with the team last year. Then to top it off, the team selected Michigan offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz with their first round pick in the draft. The hope would be that the Saints could collect a draft pick or player given Warford’s salary and age. Instead they released him outright and saved $7.75 million in cap space.
Certainly all of the fanbase, including myself, wishes him the best going forward. But now we have to wonder, what does this mean for the team going into 2020 and beyond? It would seem that Erik McCoy will make the transition to guard. Given the circumstances of this off-season, it would be the best option. This move is also another mark in the way the team views their players. Versatility has become a standard and a reliable one.
Now the fans are probably wondering why the Saints invested in bringing back Andrus Peat and letting Warford walk. The answer is simple for two reasons: Peat, when healthy, is easily a top ten left guard and he is capable of kicking out to left tackle. Also, the top options to replace Peat were gone before free agency even started. Knowing Warford was in a contract year made the decision all too easy.
This move also makes the starting offensive line younger and more athletic. Ruiz was credited for his mobility and football IQ at Michigan. Pairing that with McCoy’s knowledge gives the Saints the luxury of having literally two centers on the field at once. The depth is also very strong with versatile guys like Will Clapp, Cameron Tom and Nick Easton in the fold. This brings to question if the Saints may try to try Clapp at tackle at some point just to add to his resume. Especially with new blood like Calvin Throckmorton in the building, who can play anywhere on the line.
If there is one thing the Saints know how to do well, it is draft offensive lineman. They have taken one in twelve drafts in the Sean Payton era. Not to mention they have hit on several hidden gems like Jahri Evans, Zach Strief, and Jermon Bushrod. It is a great investment going forward knowing Drew Brees may be playing his last year in 2020 (but who knows). No matter how many pieces come and go, the Saints are always at the top in the league.