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The Saints lost one of their most important offensive linemen earlier this month, with rookie left tackle Trevor Penning undergoing foot surgery. On Thursday, they locked up one of Penning's top teammates, signing center Erik McCoy to a five-year extension worth up to $63.75 million, according to NFL Media. The new deal, which reportedly includes more than $40M guaranteed, can make the fourth-year veteran one of the league's top five highest-paid players at his position.

A second-round draft pick of the Saints in 2019, McCoy has been a full-time starter -- the anchor of New Orleans' line -- since entering the NFL. He was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract, owed $3.4M in 2022. Now, the Texas A&M product can average up to $12.75M in new money over the life of his extension, which would give him a higher annual income than all but four centers: the Eagles' Jason Kelce, Lions' Frank Ragnow, Buccaneers' Ryan Jensen and Chargers' Corey Linsley.

The 25-year-old McCoy started all 16 games in each of his first two seasons but was limited to 12 starts in 2021, when he missed time due to both a calf injury and illness. He'll be charged with helping keep quarterback Jameis Winston upright as the Saints look to return to the playoffs following a 9-8 finish during Sean Payton's final year atop the staff.