The deal: Five years, $57.5 million
Where did this come from? The Saints have a habit of making splash signings for big money in free agency when we think they’re pressed against the cap, but I didn’t see Peat coming back on this sort of deal. Not only is he coming back, but the Saints are giving him the fifth-largest average annual salary of any guard in football. I thought the former first-round pick might attract free-agent interest from a team looking to move him back to tackle, which would have bumped up his price tag, but the Saints are quite happy with Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk on the edge.
I didn’t see a Peat return on the books because the Saints seemed set at guard. Nick Easton was signed last year from the Vikings to take over at center for the retiring Max Unger, but when the Saints grabbed Erik McCoy in the second round of the draft, New Orleans installed him at center and used Easton as an overqualified utility interior lineman. With Peat leaving, it seemed logical that the Saints would push Easton into the starting lineup at guard and play him with the incumbent Larry Warford.
Now that plan doesn’t seem quite as clear. Saints reporters Katherine Terrell and Mike Triplett were wondering whether Peat’s signing could bring an end to Warford’s tenure with the team. Viewed from that angle, a Peat return could make sense. Warford has a cap hit of $12.9 million in the final year of his contract, and the Saints could free up $8.5 million by cutting or trading the former Lions starter. Given the paucity of available guards on the open market, Warford might have some trade value.
Even if Peat does replace Warford, this is a lot of money for a guard who hasn’t played a full 16-game season and didn’t play well in 2019. The 2015 to 2018 version of Peat was on pace to get this sort of deal, and at 26, he still has plenty of time to continue developing. If the Saints use this to move on from Warford, it’s a C+; if they keep Warford and devote this much money to guards and interior linemen, I’d lean toward a C.