The New Orleans Saints have done as well as any balancing the salary cap and fielding a competitive team each year. The team has finished no worse than 7-9 since 2005. The stability provided by head coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees is a large reason for their success. The NFC South franchise has been able to keep the cupboard stocked with talent through successful draft evaluations. Several of those draft hits are still on their rookie deals.
CBS Sports examines the five best value contracts on New Orleans' roster.
1.Ryan Ramczyk, offensive tackle
2020 salary cap hit: $2,829,131
Ramczyk was rated the No. 4 offensive tackle in the NFL entering the 2020 season by CBS Sports' Tyler Sullivan. The first-team All-Pro has stonewalled opposing edge rushers for three years and will soon demand to be paid similar to the league's best offensive tackles. Ramczyk is half of one of the NFL's best tackle tandems with Terron Armstead. His average annual salary ranks No. 56 among all offensive tackles.
2. Alvin Kamara, running back
2020 salary cap hit: $2,376,193
Kamara is entering the final year of his rookie contract. His skill set should be in high demand next offseason. Spotrac.com projects that he will receive a contract worth $14.9 million per year. His current deal barely squeezed into the top 1,000 contracts overall and equates to the league's No. 52 highest paid running back.
Kamara's emergence in 2017 allowed the team to feel comfortable parting ways with veteran Mark Ingram. The Tennessee product's production in the run and pass games have made him an invaluable asset to Drew Brees. In 2019, he rushed for 797 yards and five touchdowns on 171 carries. His 81 receptions were third-most among running backs last season. In fact, he has recorded exactly 81 receptions each of the past three seasons.
3. Marshon Lattimore, cornerback
2020 salary cap hit: $4,887,136
Lattimore has been selected to two Pro Bowls in three seasons in addition to taking home Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. He has two years remaining on his deal but that has proven to be irrelevant this offseason as Patrick Mahomes and Myles Garrett have received contract extensions under the same pretense.
According to Spotrac.com, Lattimore has a market value of $15.3 million annually. His interceptions have decreased each season since recording five as a rookie. Without a competent starting option opposite him, teams have not targeted Lattimore's side often. Byron Jones, Darius Slay, Trae Waynes and James Bradberry all signed deals this offseason that exceed $14 million annually. Lattimore will rank high on this list soon enough.
4. Erik McCoy, center
2020 salary cap hit: $1,383,639
McCoy played exceptionally well for a rookie last season. His average annual salary ranks No. 33 among all NFL centers, which essentially means that he is being paid like a reserve. It is unclear whether McCoy will play guard or center following the team's decision to draft Michigan center Cesar Ruiz in the first round. The presence of both allowed the team to part with veteran guard Larry Warford, which cleared up some salary cap space for the likes of Emmanuel Sanders and Michael Thomas.
Ruiz could find himself on this list next year.
Michael Thomas, wide receiver
2020 salary cap hit: $7,000,00
Thomas led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards last season. He finished fourth in receiving touchdowns. It was no aberration. He has recorded at least 92 receptions and 1,137 receiving yards in each of his four seasons. The Saints rewarded Thomas with a five-year contract extension worth $96.25 million. His cap hit does not take effect until next season when he becomes the third highest-paid wide receiver in the league behind Julio Jones and Amari Cooper.
CBS Sports' Jared Dubin ranked Thomas as the best wide receiver in the NFL entering the 2020 season.