The New Orleans Saints made a couple of moves one day ahead of their week one matchup versus the Tennessee Titans.
Early Saturday morning, Black and Gold General Manager Mickey Loomis extended starting right guard Cesar Ruiz’s contract through the 2027 season. The deal is a four-year extension, with $44 million with the max amount being $46 million. Ruiz will get $30 million guaranteed. Ian Rapoport first broke the news via X.
The former Michigan Wolverine enters his fourth year in the NFL after New Orleans drafted him 24th overall in the first round of the 2020 draft. Ruiz was a center in college but was moved to guard during the COVID season because of injuries and the Saints deciding to keep Erik McCoy in the middle of the offensive line.
The 24-year has started in 40 games for the Saints, including every game in 2021 and 14 games in 2022, however, a Lisfranc injury sidelined Ruiz for the final three games of last season.
Ruiz is one of four starters on the offensive line returning for the Saints in 2023 with the other being McCoy at center and Ryan Ramczyk at right tackle. James Hurst has been moved over to left guard, which will allow former first-rounder and second-year player Trevor Penning to start at left tackle.
The other move the Saints made was placing wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith on injured reserve, which means he will miss at least the first four games of the season. Smith has been dealing with a groin injury for the majority of the offseason and was one of seven receivers to make the final 53-man roster after the preseason concluded. The other pass catchers are Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, Keith Kirkwood, A.T. Perry, and Kirk Merritt, who has shown up on depth charts as a running back.
Smith was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft by New Orleans and has never broken out to be a consistent contributor for the Saints. His best year was in 2020 when he caught 34 passes for 448 yards and four touchdowns. His biggest asset for the team has been his ability to be a blocker in the run game.
With Smith going on IR and rookie quarterback Jake Haener getting suspended by the NFL earlier in the week, the Saints elevated running back Tony Jones Jr. and linebacker Ryan Connelly ahead of playing the Titans. Luke Johnson broke the extra moves via X as well.
The kickoff for that game against Tennesse is set for 12:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 10th.