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New Orleans Saints star reportedly dealing with potential career-ending injury

New Orleans Saints
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints had one of the best offenses for years with Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and a dominant offensive line. As the 2023 NFL season draws to a close, with Payton and Brees already gone, there’s a chance another crucial part of the Saints’ success could be forced to walk away.

New Orleans dominated the NFC for years, winning the NFC South in four consecutive seasons from 2017-2020. Unfortunately, the team has progressively gotten worse with Brees retiring, Payton walking away for another job and both offensive weapons becoming lesser versions of their former selves.

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The Saints’ offense could now be headed for an even bigger blow. After missing two games with a knee injury, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk revealed this week that he’s now facing an uncertain future in the NFL due to a cartilage defect in his knee.

  • Ryan Ramczyke contract: $27 million cap hit in 2024, $28 million cap hit in 2025, $25.225 million cap hit in 2026, $2.584 million dead money in 2027

Ramczyk provided insight to ESPN’s Katherine Terrell on the specifics of his knee injury. It’s been an issue that has bothered him for the past three seasons, requiring him to visit with doctors this offseason to make a final decision on his future. While he very much wants to play for New Orleans, the lingering pain in a knee that has little cartilage remaining will be factored into his decision.

“I think those are the discussions we are going to have, that need to be had, and we’ll go from there. … I’ll talk with surgeons, doctors, get as much as information as I can and then just make the best decision.”

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyke on his NFL future

While Ramzcyk’s contract makes him one of the highest-paid NFL players, the current structure is very favorable to New Orleans if his career is in doubt. After the 2023 season, the Saints can designate Ramczyk as a post-June 1 release, freeing up $10.5 million of cap space in 2024 with an $18.8 million dead cap in 2025.

According to OverTheCap.com, that would take the Saints from -$87.232 million of cap space in 2024 to being $72 million above the NFL salary cap. While they would still have to release several players and restructure additional contracts, it would at least create a little more financial flexibility.

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The downside for New Orleans is obvious. Ramczyk is a three-time All-Pro selection and has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL for years. He’s turning 30 in April, an age where offensive tackles are still capable of playing at an elite level for several more years.

However, Ramczyk’s effectiveness has dipped in recent years. After earning an 84.1 PFF grade in 2021, allowing just 19 pressures across 361 pass-blocking snaps, Ramczyk earned a 77.9 PFF grade in 2022 and has allowed 2 pressures this season with a 73.5 PFF grade.

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