According to Mike Garafolo Of NFL Network the Saints have declined Eli Apple’s fifth-year option. While this may seem like New Orleans is done with Apple, it’s not quite that simple.
Per NOLA.com, the price tag for Apple’s option as a top-10 pick would be $13.7M in 2020. That would skyrocket him to being one of the highest paid corners in the NFL. And while the Saints like what Apple has done with the team so far and his contributions have been evident, that’s not quite what they’re willing to commit to a corner not named Marshon Lattimore at the moment. So this doesn’t come down the Saints being at all unhappy with the former Giant, it’s just that the conditions under which the option forces the team to operate don’t align with the team’s intentions. They very clearly like what Apple brings to the team but would much rather operate under their own terms.
2020’s Five Top-Paid Corners
Jalen Ramsey, Jaguars – $13.7M
A.J. Bouye, Jaguars – $13.5M
Kyle Fuller, Bears – $13M
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals – $12.55M
Josh Norman, Washington – $12.5M
Since being traded to New Orleans, Apple has seen a resurgence in his career as he was once considered a bust in New York with the Giants. Last year with the Saints, Apple totaled 52 tackles, one fumble recovery, nine passed defended and two interceptions. Apple also contributed to the league’s second-best run defense by adding 10 total stops per PFF which are considered tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. All while keeping QBs to only an 86.6 passer rating 58.2 completion percentage in his coverage.
It’s likely that the Saints will want to stick with Apple as Dennis Allen thought he was a valuable piece to the defense and last year’s second-half defensive dominance. The Saints were largely considered the NFLs’ best defense after Eli Apple’s arrival. However, they’ll want to do it under terms that they negotiate with Apple, not undermine a price set forth that doesn’t match the commitment. Look for the Saints and Apple’s camp to work toward a longer termed contract at the end of the season before he potentially hits free agency.
Follow Ross on Twitter @RossJacksonASC