By John Sigler
A surprising twist hit the New Orleans Saints offseason when center Max Unger chose to retire with a year left on his contract. His decision was first reported by Field Yates of ESPN.
Unger, 32, was one of the best centers in the NFL and had played at a consistently high level since joining the team as part of the landmark Jimmy Graham trade with the Seattle Seahawks in 2015. Unger was voted to the Pro Bowl last season, his first selection since the Saints acquired him.
It’s not clear how much salary cap space the Saints will recoup with Unger retiring, but they would have saved $6.95 million had they released him outright. He will remain on the books with $1.75 million in dead money from previous payouts. His $8.7 million salary cap hit ranked sixth-largest on the team.
Unger’s contract would have expired simultaneously with quarterback Drew Brees’. That would have been difficult for the Saints to tackle even if backup passer Teddy Bridgewater was a sure thing to return in 2020 (he isn’t), so the only silver lining here is that the Saints get a head start on finding Unger’s replacement. Backups Cameron Tom and Will Clapp are highly regarded by the Saints, but neither should be assumed ready to start at center in...