Larry Warford’s days were numbered when the Saints made Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz the first offensive linemen off the board at No. 24 in the 2020 NFL Draft.
New Orleans announced Warford was released Friday; news that came even sooner than expected.
Warford, a 101-game starter, has been a stalwart at right guard for the Saints. At 28 years old, he has been named to each of the last Pro Bowls and is fully in his prime; representing a cap savings of over $7 million with his release, the decision to move on from Warford at this point was not performance-related.
Warford can immediately step in and improve an offensive line. These three teams should have a contract offer to Warford as soon as possible.
The Dolphins needed to overhaul their offensive line this offseason and so far they have made impressive strides in doing so. Miami landed Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras in free agency and drafted Austin Jackson and Robert Hunt in the first and second rounds of the draft, respectively. The Dolphins moved up into the fourth round to land Solomon Kindley.
While the influx of talent gives Miami’s offensive line a much-needed boost, none of those moves should preclude the Dolphins from making a run at Warford, who is a perfect fit for the power run blocking scheme and horizontal spread passing offense employed by offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Miami invested a top-five pick on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the injury concerns that came with him. It could help elevate some of that risk by plugging Warford, a high-quality starter, into the right guard position.
The offensive line situation that top pick Joe Burrow is walking into is concerning, as noted when examining how Cincinnati is set up for him to succeed:
“Jonah Williams was the team's first-round pick last year but the left tackle missed the entire season due to injury. The guards are slated to be some combination of Michael Jordan, Billy Price and Xavier Su’a-Filo. Jordan struggled his way through nine starts as a rookie in 2019, Price is teetering on bust status and Su’a-Filo has been a replacement-level player since entering the league in 2014. Bobby Hart is a liability at right tackle but has found a way to hold his position. The bright spot on the offensive line is center Trey Hopkins, who is a quality starter.
“While Williams could be a stud at left tackle, he’s never played a snap in the league. Outside of Hopkins, the starting offensive line is littered with question marks and replacement-level talent. The offensive line Burrow would be walking into in Cincinnati is poor.”
Warford would immediately become the Bengals’ best offensive linemen, which only makes life easier for Burrow, who is expected to start as a rookie, and the production Cincinnati hopes to find in its rushing attack.
New York Jets
General manager Joe Douglas was aggressive in free agency to land a host of new offensive linemen — George Fant, Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten — in addition to picking offensive tackle Mekhi Becton at No. 11 in the draft. Given the need to improve the supporting cast around quarterback Sam Darnold in order for him to develop into the franchise quarterback, those moves were necessary. Darnold was sacked on 7% of his dropbacks last season and ball security issues have remained an issue dating back to college.
Despite the additions to the unit, the guard positions could still use a boost, and Warford would fill the void with one of the top interior blockers in football. With Alex Lewis, Greg Van Roten and Brian Winters the likely candidates to start at the two guard spots, Warford is a considerable upgrade over all three.
Warford improves the pass blocking for Darnold and would create more space for Le’Veon Bell in the run game, making him the perfect addition to maximize New York’s top catalysts for offensive production.
- Aug 12, 2022
- Aug 11, 2022