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  • Writer's pictureTim Jones

Saints Decline Payton Turner’s Fifth-Year Option: What Went Wrong?

In a move that surprised few, the New Orleans Saints have opted not to commit to defensive lineman Payton Turner beyond the 2024 NFL season. According to Ari Meirov of The 33rd Team, the Saints have declined to exercise the fifth-year option on Turner’s contract, signaling his impending free agency.


The decision comes on the heels of the deadline for teams to exercise the fifth-year option on their 2021 first-round draft picks. Had the Saints chosen to pick up Turner’s option, it would have locked him into a hefty $13.39 million salary for the 2025 campaign. However, given Turner’s underwhelming performance and injury history, the Saints have opted to explore other options.


Turner, a product of the University of Houston, has struggled to make a significant impact in his time with the Saints, appearing in just 15 games over three seasons. His rookie year was marred by a shoulder injury that limited him to just five games. While he managed to stay relatively healthy in his sophomore campaign, appearing in eight games, his production remained modest, tallying 16 tackles and two sacks.


The 2023 season saw Turner’s fortunes take another hit as he landed on injured reserve after suffering a turf toe injury in Week 1. His return to the field was delayed until January, and he ended the season with just two appearances to his name.


With the Saints bolstering their defensive line with the acquisition of free agent Chase Young and the stalwart presence of veteran Cameron Jordan, Turner’s path to playing time in the upcoming season is unclear. Moreover, with the opportunity to save $2.3 million against the salary cap by parting ways with Turner, the Saints may opt to let the former first-round pick seek a fresh start elsewhere.


Turner’s tenure with the Saints serves as a cautionary tale of the unpredictability of NFL careers. Despite entering the league with high expectations as a first-round pick, Turner has failed to live up to the hype, plagued by injuries and inconsistency.


As Turner enters the final year of his rookie contract, the upcoming season will be pivotal for his future in the league. Whether he can overcome his setbacks and carve out a role for himself in the NFL remains to be seen. But for now, the Saints’ decision to decline his fifth-year option underscores the challenges he faces in proving himself at the highest level of professional football.

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