The New Orleans Saints will start the 2017 season without their starting center, Max Unger. Unger suffered a foot injury that is expected to sideline him through the beginning of the season, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Rapoport said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football that the injury is likely to land Unger on the Saints’ PUP list. If he’s still not healthy enough to participate by the end of training camp, Unger will be required to sit out the first six weeks of the season, per league rules.
It’s bad news for the Saints, because they don’t have great depth at the position right now. They have second-year center Jack Allen, who played zero snaps in his rookie season. Senio Kelemete is a backup guard in New Orleans who could slide over to center if necessary.
But the Saints may be forced to hit the free agent market to find a fill-in for Unger until he’s healthy enough to play. Former Jets center Nick Mangold is still available and would at least bring extensive experience to the position.
Unger has been a bright spot for the Saints offensive line since New Orleans acquired him as part of the trade that sent tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks. Unger started all 16 games for the Saints in 2015 and was on the field for 15 games last season.
It’s only May, and the Saints already have a major quandary along the offensive line.