Drew Brees rolls right out of the pocket as much as any quarterback in the league, which makes the job of the New Orleans Saints' right tackle a very important one. Since 2006, when the Saints selected him in the seventh round out Northwestern, Zach Strief has developed into that role. And on Monday, the Saints announced that they signed Strief to a new five-year deal. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the deal is for $20.5 million with $8.4 million guaranteed.
“We are excited to announce that Zach will stay with us into the future,” general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement. “Not only has he done an excellent job at the right tackle position, but he has served us well as an offensive team captain for the past two seasons and has always been a great asset in the community since he first came here in 2006.”
Strief has played in 109 career regular-season games with 45 starts and has played in 10 postseason contests with four starts at right tackle. In 2013, he started a career-high 15 regular-season games, as well as New Orleans' playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles and loss to the Seattle Seahawks. In 1,213 total snaps, he allowed four sacks, five quarterback hits and 29 hurries -- highly impressive numbers for a roll-right, pass-happy team like this one.
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The Saints had been talking with Strief for a while about a new contract, and he rejected overtures from the Miami Dolphins as the two sides worked things out.
"There is a mutual interest to get something done on both sides, and we had a good meeting and discussions," Strief's agent, Ralph Cindrich, said at the scouting combine.
Right tackles are of variable importance depending on team and scheme, but for the reasons illustrated above, the Saints put a major premium on the position, and Strief has proven that he can meet the challenge.