Saints HC Sean Payton said he expects C Max Unger to return from his foot injury by Week 3 of the preseason, according to Herbie Teope.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, citing a source with knowledge of the situation, reports that the Saints expect C Max Unger to return at some point during the preseason, despite recent reports that have said he could open the season on the PUP list.
Unger underwent surgery on his injury foot last weekend.
According to Rapoport, Unger is likely to open the season on the team’s physically unable to perform list, which will cost him the first six games.
This is disappointing news for the Saints, as Unger is one of their best offensive linemen and could be difficult to replace. If New Orleans looks to the free agent market, the most notable name is Nick Mangold. However, there’s enough time for them to see what they have internally before making a move.
Unger, 31, is a former second-round pick of the Seahawks back in 2009. After six years in Seattle, he was traded to the Saints in return for TE Jimmy Graham and a first-round pick that eventually became LB Stephone Anthony.
Unger signed a four-year, $23.3 million contract with the Saints that included $14.3 million guaranteed last year. He stands to make base salaries of $1.7 million (2017), $4.5 million (2018), and $5.1 million (2019) over the remainder of the contract.
In 2016, Unger appeared in 15 games for the Saints and was rated by Pro Football Focus as the No. 11 center out of 38 qualifying players.