It Didn't Take Long For The Saints To "Center" Themselves, As They Already Filled The Spot Vacated By Max Unger In Signing Former Viking Nick Easton
The good news is that, between the quickness with which they solidified an timely weakness and Sean Payton's retrospectively suspicious identification of interior offensive line as an offseason need, it can be inferred that the New Orleans Saints weren't anywhere near as taken aback by the otherwise out-of-nowhere retirement of Max Unger as their fans were...
The bad news is that Nick Easton wasn't on the level of his predecessor prior to spending an entire season recovering from neck surgery, when he was being switched between guard and center, and thus probably isn't worth a cap hit comparable to the one that was just taken off their books.
All in all, it's a moral(e ) victory to be able to bounce back from such an impactful loss of talent so quickly, but it's still a decided overall loss with how much trustworthiness and leadership are leaving the building. The Saints also emptied out their change purse to keep Cameron Tom within the organization, so having two players with the potential to fill Max Unger's immovable shoes is a hell of a lot better than getting caught with their pants completely down. That said, as tends to be the case when perennial Pro Bowl caliber protectors call it quits, there's undoubtedly more skepticism regarding the Saints' offensive line now than there was on Saturday morning.
Nick Easton came undrafted out of Harvard, which - as evidenced by the immortal career of Ryan Fitzpatrick - buys him the assumption of on-field intelligence. I'm not so sure that says anything about him being able to keep Drew Brees' jersey clean, but it's at least something Saints' fans can use to sell themselves on his ability to start in the oft-pressured middle of a line in which knowledge is almost as good as power. The quarterback he'll be playing in front of has a tendency to make lineman look better with his pocket presence, but - for the time being - we'll stick with labeling the Saints' reconstructed situation over center as "could be better, could be worse". That's not all that awful considering the caliber of player and person they were left trying to replace.