Larry Warford hasn’t been a free agent for 48 hours and yet NFL rumors have him moving closer to being signed by a new team as of Saturday night. The offensive lineman was released by the New Orleans Saints on Friday and one of the teams rumored to have interest in him reportedly dropped out of the race a day later. The Chicago Bears reportedly had some interest in Warford, but Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reports sources have told him they are now no longer vying for the offensive lineman’s services.
Florio added that it’s not entirely clear just how much interest the Bears had in Warford to begin with. He said he has been told is that if they were real pursuers, they are done now.
The Houston Texans were reported to have the most interest in Warford. With the Bears apparently dropping out, the path appears to be clear for Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien to beef up his front five on the offensive side of the ball.
The Saints released Warford so they could save more than $7 million in cap space, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN. The lineman was originally drafted by the Detroit Lions but he moved to “Big Easy” in 2017. He had a good run there, appearing in the Pro Bowl for three straight seasons.
Tripplett said the Saints were clearly making a move away from Warford when they re-signed left guard Andrus Peat to a big extension and selected Cesar Ruiz in the first round of last month’s NFL draft. Shortly after choosing Ruiz, the team said either he or center Erik McCoy would be making a move to guard. The Saints never specifically said that meant the end of Warford but the writing was on the wall, according to analysts.
New Orleans needed to drop Warford’s contract, as the team is very close to the league’s salary cap. Signing its entire draft class would move the franchise right back to that upper limit even without Warford’s salary on the books.
Blake Schuster of Bleacher Report claims the offensive lineman’s lack of mobility is another reason the Saints decided to move on. Schuster also believes if Warford does sign with the Texans, he wouldn’t be a shoo-in for a starting job. Sources with the Texans have allegedly told the writer the free-agent would need to compete with current starter Zach Fulton. Fulton has held down the spot for the last two seasons.