Saints, Cameron Jordan agree on deal that runs through 2023 season: report

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) celebrates sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during a NFC Wild Card game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo by David Grunfeld, |The Times-Picayune)

Normally, signing a nearly 34-year-old defensive end to a contract extension would be grounds for dismissal.

At worse, it’d be reason to have your mental competency checked.

But there is nothing normal about Cam Jordan and his extraordinary NFL career.

As he prepares for his 13th season with the New Orleans Saints, Jordan continues to defy Father Time and play at an elite level. He led the Saints with 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2022. It was the ninth time in the last 11 seasons that he has led the team in sacks. He’s well on his way to becoming the greatest defensive player in Saints history.

So, in this rare case, it makes sense for the Saints to extend Jordan’s contract for another couple of years beyond this season.

Jordan has earned it. Every penny.

In a city seemingly plagued by maladies to its star players, Jordan is as steady and constant as the Mississippi River.

He has started for 12 consecutive seasons and averaged a remarkable 10.4 sacks a year for the last 11 of them. In that time, he has missed only one game because of injury in his career. He’s played more than 85% of the Saints’ defensive snaps in the past 12 seasons. That’s an astounding streak of durability at one of the game’s most demanding positions.

Jordan is already one of the oldest defensive ends in the league. If he finishes the two-year contract extension the club is negotiating with him, he will presumably end his career in 2025, which would put him in rare company.

How rare?

He would match Drew Brees as the longest-tenured player in franchise history with 15 seasons of service.

With 192 games played, Jordan trails only Brees (228), Morten Andersen (196) and Rickey Jackson (195) on the club’s all-time list. He would need to play in 37 of a possible 51 regular-season games to eclipse Brees.

Assuming he stays healthy, he would vault into the company of standouts such as Jim Marshall (20 seasons), Bruce Smith (19), Carl Eller (16), Reggie White (15) and Michael Strahan (15) among the longest-tenured defensive ends in NFL history. Of those, only Strahan played with the same team for his entire career.

Before he’s done, Jordan will rewrite the club record book for Saints defensive players. He’s already been to more Pro Bowls than any Saints defender. His eight invitations are second only to Brees (12) and more than Hall of Famers Andersen (6), Jackson (6) and Willie Roaf (7).

If he averages 7.5 sacks a season for the next three years, Jordan will finish his career among the league’s top 10 in all-time sacks, which would ensure him of Hall of Fame induction.

Jordan is so much more than just a banshee pass rusher, though. He defends the run as well as any defensive end in the game. And he reads offenses the way Brees used to diagnose defenses, always one step ahead. In 2017, Jordan ranked third on the team with 11 passes defensed, a ridiculous number for a defensive end and a testament to his rare diagnostic skills.

When Saints officials talk about signing or drafting “our kinda guys,” they’re talking about someone like Jordan. Smart. Tough. Durable. Accountable. A leader both in the locker room and in the community.

Jordan can be easily misjudged because of the playful personality he presents during media interviews. Don’t let the goofy temperament fool you. There’s a Jedi behind the Joker exterior.

Jordan is a pro’s pro. He produces at an elite level, is reliable to the coaching staff and accountable to his teammates.

He’s also active in the club’s community outreach projects. Jordan regularly visits schools and other outlets on Tuesdays — his lone day off — during the season. At this stage of his illustrious career, he could easily pull rank and cede those duties to other members of the team. But he doesn’t, largely because he genuinely cares about giving back to the community. Jordan and his family have made New Orleans their home.

Signing Jordan to an extension also would send a strong message to the Saints locker room. Players would know it’s not just lip service when team officials preach about the importance of doing the right thing on and off the field. Rewarding Jordan bolsters that message.

Jordan, like Brees, has defined what it means to be a Saints’ kinda guy. He’s exactly the kind of guy you pay.

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