Surprise release of Saints G Larry Warford puts 3-time Pro Bowler on open market

One of the NFL’s best blockers hit the free-agent market on Friday when the New Orleans Saints released veteran guard Larry Warford.

The move comes as a surprise considering that Warford, 28, is coming off his third-straight Pro Bowl appearance. Teams in need of interior line help now have the opportunity to sign an impact player in his prime deep in the free-agency market.

Opportunity knocks for teams in need of interior line help. (Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Salary cap casualty?

Warford was approaching the final year of a four-year, $34 million deal and would have carried a $12.9 million salary cap hit this season, indicating that cap relief was New Orleans’ primary motivation.

The Saints drafted Michigan center Cesar Ruiz in the first round (No. 24) of April’s draft, giving the team a top talent option in the middle of the line at a considerable discount over Warford’s salary.

Warford joins a free-agent market that includes other notable names like Cam Newton and Jadeveon Clowney. That the Saints apparently couldn’t find a trade partner suggests that he won’t find nearly the same payday he was due this season. But he’ll be a valuable addition where he ends up signing.

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