Thunder Pelicans Basketball

Saints defensive end Cam Jordan sits courtside at an NBA basketball game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Oklahoma City Thunder in New Orleans, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018.

The New Orleans Saints have shown Cam Jordan the love with a new three-year, $52.5 million contract extension announced Tuesday.

It’s great news for Jordan, who could make as much as $74.5 million off the reworked deal that is tacked onto the five-year, $55 million contract he signed four years ago.

It’s great news for Saints fans, who see the team bestowing one of its cornerstone players with the kind of devotion and respect Jordan has shown for the franchise and the city of New Orleans since he arrived from the University of California with the 24th-overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

While Jordan may end up displaying Julius Peppers-like longevity — the Carolina Panthers defensive end just retired after 17 seasons — this could well be a take-him-to-the-end-of-his-career contract. Jordan turns 30 on July 10. But if there is another deal to be done, this is a contract Cam will likely remember if deciding whether to spend his entire career with the Saints, which now seems more likely.

Can't see video below? Click here.

Perhaps the best signal from this contract is it demonstrates the Saints showing a serious appreciation for a player not named Drew Brees.

Don’t get me wrong. Brees deserves the staggering contract money the Saints have thrown at him (the Saints’ quarterback will make $23 million in 2019). But as has been bandied about for awhile now, the Saints need to consider what it will be like to be living and competing in a post-Brees world. Preparing for the day the now 40-year old quarterback hangs up his automatically retired No. 9 jersey and starts counting the days until his sure-fire first-ballot induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No one really knows how much longer Brees will play. But it is reasonable to assume that Jordan’s contract will outlive whatever time Brees has remaining with the team. A contract of these dimensions with Jordan helps demonstrate the franchise’s ability — and willingness — to retain core players of Cam’s caliber well into the future. Now the team can turn its financial spotlight toward the next crucial contract: a new deal for superstar wide receiver Michael Thomas.

Though a substantial pay increase, from a league-wide perspective Jordan may be one of the NFL’s most underappreciated stars. He has only been a first-team All-Pro once, in 2017, and named to four Pro Bowls in eight seasons. But he’s a quality three-down player as a defensive end, a force against the run and the pass, ranking 12th among active players with 71.5 sacks and 14th among active players with 98 tackles for loss. The latter number already ranks him 35th in NFL history.

Almost as importantly is Jordan’s rock-steady presence on the field and in the Saints’ locker room. Amazingly he has not missed a game as a pro, 128 in all, only failing to start once in his rookie in Game 15 against Atlanta. His streak of 113 straight starts is the eighth-longest among active players.

Jordan’s longevity, productivity and nutty good-naturedness – he has been known to wear a Justice League-logoed belt as part of his game-day ensemble – makes him the kind of leader to which other players naturally gravitate. A defensive counterpoint, if you will, to Brees.

“I told them from the jump this is where I’m trying to play my pro career,” Jordan said.

Now that has gone from likelihood to near certainty. It is a day for Jordan, the Saints and their fans, to celebrate.

Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​