The Saints have an easy decision on Payton Turner’s fifth-year option

Unfortunately, the New Orleans Saints may not need to wait until the May 2 deadline to choose whether to pick up Payton Turner’s fifth-year option for 2025. The former 2021 first-round pick just hasn’t shown enough to warrant the cost: an estimated (and fully-guaranteed) $13.8 million, per the experts at Over The Cap.

For context, the Saints have already paid Turner a total of $10.1 million between his signing bonus and first three years’ salary. In 2024 he’ll play on a salary just over $2.3 million.

To this point in his three-year career Turner has appeared in a total of 15 games (out of 51 combined Saints games played), missing all but the first and last matchups in 2023 due to a devastating injury. He was banged up through his first two years in the league, too, but he missed a handful of games as a healthy scratch when teammates were outproducing him. In those 15 games he has totaled 29 tackles (20 solo, 8 tackles for loss), 3 sacks, 8 quarterback hits, and a fumble recovery.

Now he’s going into a make-or-break 2024 season. If Turner can stay healthy and make plays rushing the quarterback, he’ll earn an extension with the Saints in 2025 or a lucrative contract elsewhere. If he can’t do either of those things, he may hang around the league for a little while thanks to his draft status, but it’s just as possible that he’ll be out of the game altogether.

In any case: the 2024 season is critically important for Turner’s future in pro football. He did everything right in 2023 by attacking the offseason with a positive attitude and being receptive to coaching. He just needs to repeat that process and hope for better injury luck when the season kicks off.

This isn’t the end of the line for Turner. The Saints chose to not exercise right guard Cesar Ruiz’s fifth-year option for 2024, either, ultimately signing him to a long-term extension before the season started in 2023. Ruiz broke out in 2022 after settling into his new position and built on that progress over the summer. Obviously Turner isn’t in the same situation, but he can still turn things around and earn a second contract with the team that drafted him. With Cameron Jordan getting older and the Saints pass rush falling off, they could really use a breakout campaign from Turner in the fall.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire