Sports

Source: Saints make Ramczyk NFL’s top-paid RT

METAIRIE, La. — The New Orleans Saints have not yet identified their next quarterback following Drew Brees’ retirement. But they ensured that he will be well protected on Wednesday by signing All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk to a five-year extension.

The deal is worth $96 million in new money, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, which makes Ramczyk the highest-paid right tackle in the NFL.

The $19.2 million average per year in Ramczyk’s extension sets the standard for NFL right tackles, surpassing the $18 million average per year in Lane Johnson‘s deal he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019.

That makes sense, since Ramczyk has been among the league’s elite linemen since being drafted with the 32nd pick out of Wisconsin in 2017. He was named first-team All-Pro in 2019 and second-team in both 2018 and 2020.

Signing Ramczyk long-term was a no-brainer for New Orleans, even at this hefty price tag. All-Pro left tackle Terron Armstead is also heading into the final year of his contract, which could lead to a tough financial decision next year. But the Saints certainly couldn’t afford to lose both as they build for the future behind Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill or a candidate to be named later.

Ramczyk, 27, was due to earn $11.064 million in the final year of his contract this season. But the Saints could actually save some needed salary-cap space in the short term, depending on how they structure the deal.

The Saints had about $5-6 million in cap space before Ramczyk’s new deal. They should now have room to add some veteran help if needed heading into this season, with potential needs at cornerback, receiver, defensive tackle and possibly linebacker.

Ramczyk and Armstead have formed an elite duo over the past four years, while the Saints have won four straight NFC South titles and produced the league’s best regular-season record.

Ramczyk was a part of New Orleans’ superb 2017 draft class, which also includes running back Alvin Kamara, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Marcus Williams and defensive end Trey Hendrickson.

Kamara signed an extension last year, and Williams or Lattimore could be next. The Saints placed the franchise tag on Williams this year and have until July 15 to reach a long-term extension. Lattimore has one year left on his rookie deal. Hendrickson signed a lucrative deal with the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason.

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