Saints OT Zach Strief Knows Team Drafted Andrus Peat to Someday Replace Him

By Andrea Hangst

It’s an unfortunate but inevitable rite of passage for NFL veterans to watch their team eventually draft the man tasked with replacing him on the roster. It never feels all that good—for the veteran, it’s a sign he’s getting old, getting slow or getting too expensive for his team to remain loyal for much longer. But New Orleans Saints right tackle Zach Strief is embracing the challenge.

Strief spoke with Joel A. Erickson of The New Orleans Advocate on Monday about the team’s selection of Stanford tackle Andrus Peat in Round 1 of the 2015 draft. Strief was candid in his remarks, admitting that Peat will be taking his job “eventually,” though of course, Strief wants to make sure it takes “as long as possible for that to happen.”

Saints head coach Sean Payton said over the weekend, via NFL.com’s Marc Sessler, that Peat has been lining up primarily at right tackle during the team’s rookie minicamp. Though the Saints have their most glaring need on the line at left guard, thanks to the free agency departure of Ben Grubbs, it’s possible that the rookie will remain at tackle even this year. That would force Strief, who has never played guard during his 10-year NFL career, to the inside.

Strief was a seventh-round draft pick of the Saints in 2006 and has spent his entire career with the team, eventually working his way up to starter. He was Pro Football Focus‘ (subscription required) 17th-ranked offensive tackle in 2014 (out of 84) and their fifth-best right tackle after allowing only three sacks, six quarterback hits and 31 hurries on the season.

Strief is playing on a five-year, $20 million contract that he signed in 2014. So he is in no immediate danger of losing his roster spot entirely. But the writing is on the wall—Peat is the future for the Saints at right tackle. But Strief is not bitter—in fact, he knows that he has a role to play in getting him into the starting lineup:

At least Peat has a willing mentor in Strief, even though Strief is going to make it as hard as possible for Peat to wrest the right tackle job away from him in his rookie year.