The New Orleans Saints have locked up one of the pieces of their foundation by agreeing to a contract extension with defensive end Cam Jordan.
The deal, which runs for five additional years, will keep Jordan in New Orleans through the 2020 season, a source confirmed to The Advocate on Tuesday. Jordan was previously retained for the 2015 season when the Saints picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.
The pact could be worth up to $60 million, with $33.8 million guaranteed, Fox Sports reported. Jordan was previously under contract for $6.969 million, and New Orleans had minimal cap space available before making this move. Depending on the structure of the contract, this should free up some cash for the team.
“I’m excited about this opportunity,” Jordan said in a statement. “I would like to thank Mr. (Tom) Benson, the entire organization, my teammates and coaches and the New Orleans Saints fans for their support the last four years. New Orleans has become my home, and I look forward to continue making an impact both on and off the field for a long time here. Now we can put our focus on the most important thing, which is working hard day in and day out towards our ultimate goal of a championship.”
“This is a great day for the New Orleans Saints and for Cameron,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said. “Since his arrival, Cameron has progressed into one of the core players on our team both on and off the field. He’s had a great start to his career here, and we’re excited about him being one of the mainstays to our defense moving forward.”
At the March owners’ meetings, coach Sean Payton said retaining Jordan was a priority and that Loomis had been engaged in discussions with Jordan’s representatives.
The 25-year-old has been one of the team’s more consistent pass rushers over the past three seasons. He broke out in 2012 by recording eight sacks; he logged 12.5 in 2013 and finished with 7.5 last season.
Jordan has not missed a game in his four years in New Orleans and logged 1,018 snaps last season — second on the defense behind linebacker Curtis Lofton, who is no longer with the team.
The Saints, who have historically let deals go down to the wire, made a similar move last season when they reached an early agreement with pass rusher Junior Galette on a four-year, $41.5 million extension.
Another member of the 2011 draft class, Robert Quinn, inked a similar deal to Jordan’s early last season, agreeing to a four-year, $57 million contract extension with the St. Louis Rams. He was coming off a season in which he recorded 19 sacks and was a year earlier in his deal than Jordan, which presumably helped the Rams save money.
Jordan’s deal now sets the market for other 3-4 defensive ends, such as Pittsburgh’s Cameron Heyward, also a member of the 2011 draft class and the son of former Saints fullback Craig “Ironhead” Heyward.
The New Orleans defensive line entered last season with high hopes after coming off a stellar 2013 season in which the Saints combined for 49 sacks. But generating pressure on quarterbacks was a consistent issue last season, and the Saints finished with just 34 sacks.
New Orleans took measures to correct those issues this offseason. The team signed pass rusher Anthony Spencer as a free agent and invested a second-round pick on Washington pass rusher Hau’oli Kikaha. Later in the draft, the team added pass rusher Davis Tull and defensive tackle Tyeler Davison.
An improved secondary should give the pass rushers more time to get after quarterbacks.
While there had been some speculation that New Orleans could look to trade Jordan, and rumors swirled that the team was shopping him early during free agency, it appears all of that talk can be put to rest.
With this deal, Jordan becomes one of the centerpieces of the young defensive corps. And with this deal comes greater expectations.
Like the rest of the defense, Jordan did not generate the same kind of consistent pressure he enjoyed during the 2013 season, but he was stout against the run and still had a solid season as a pass rusher.
This deal means New Orleans is expecting him to continue to develop and consistently perform as one of the better pass rushers in the NFL. Another year of experience and more help from his defensive teammates should help him reach those expectations.
The Saints are betting big on it.