The New Orleans Saints locked up their second first-round pick on Thursday.
The team announced the four-year contract with offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. As with all first-round selections, the deal comes with a team option for a fifth season.
The 6-foot-6, 314-pound tackle was the 32nd pick in the draft, a selection obtained from the New England Patriots in the Brandin Cooks trade. He played just one season at Wisconsin after transferring from Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Ramczyk could be thrust into the starting lineup for the Saints from the jump after Terron Armstead suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder and is out four to six months.
Ramczyk is coming off a hip injury of his own, which caused him to miss some team work this offseason.
McDaniel, 32, spent last season with the Seahawks — his second stint in Seattle — after runs with the Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jacksonville.
It’s fair to wonder if the signing could have anything to do with the status of Saints interior defender Nick Fairley, who is still waiting for a third opinion on his heart condition.
The Saints also have last year’s first-rounder, Sheldon Rankins, at the position along with David Onyemata and Tyeler Davison. If he still has any gas in the tank, McDaniels brings trustworthy depth for a defense that has faltered for years.
Most remember McDaniels as a core piece of that dominant 2013 Seahawks club that put a hurt on Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. This New Orleans defense is a million miles away from that unit, but McDaniels is the latest addition to help turn the tide.
The Saints flirted with drafting quarterback Patrick Mahomes and linebacker Reuben Foster in the first round, and instead landed starting corner Marshon Lattimore and left tackle Ryan Ramczyk. Starting defensive tackle Nick Fairley got tests on his heart condition, the severity of which is in question and could conceivably end his career.
The stream of news doesn’t suggest a Super Bowl contender in a deep NFC South division. Yet, June is optimism season for every NFL team.
“We’re building a team to win a Super Bowl,” Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan told Greg Bishop. “We’re not building for the future. It’s hard not to believe in our team. We’re ready to win it now.”
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The Saints have finished 7-9 the past three seasons. (Fun fact: In 10 years in New Orleans, Sean Payton has as many 7-9 finishes — four — as the “7-9 b——-” King Jeff Fisher had in 22 years of coaching.)
It’s easy to dismiss Jordan’s Super Bowl talk as offseason chatter. The reason to believe in a Saints turnaround sits under center, where Drew Brees continues to be among the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
“Is there a better quarterback? You tell me how many 5,000-yard seasons have been produced in NFL history.”
There have been nine 5,000-yard passing seasons in history. Jordan correctly points out that Brees has five of those years.
The addition of Peterson this offseason suggests Payton wants to take some of the workload off Brees’ 38-year-old arm. If both future Hall of Famers perform at peak level, New Orleans will boast the most potent and balanced offense in the NFL.
Still owning major questions on defense, especially at linebacker and pass rush, the Saints need the offense to carry the day if they are going to march back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013.