No. 8: LT Jermon Bushrod (N/A, 1st year; 2013 UFA)
Credit: (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
It’s not that Jermon Bushrod isn’t replaceable.
There are players who could likely fill in for him and be average.
No, it’s that Bushrod and quarterback Drew Brees have formed a symbiotic bond that might be the most important along the offensive line and one that can’t be replicated so easily with a new player.
With all due respect to Brian de la Puente the center, Brees can see what’s coming through or around him. Bushrod has his backside and the quarterback, having played with the left tackle for four seasons now, knows exactly what’s happening back there.
Bushrod is a soft-spoken lead-by-example kind of guy, one his teammates respect and enjoy being around.
He might not rate highly according to some statistical analytics sites, but his value goes beyond what they’re deducing. The Saints ran 34 times at left tackle this past season, averaging 4.06 yards per tote, second best average along the offensive line. New Orleans’ Brees completed 62.3 percent of his passes thrown short and over Bushrod’s side.
Left tackles aren’t the most readily available players and Bushrod has been reliable. Since taking over as the full-time starter in 2009, he has started 60 straight games 68 of a possible 70 games, missing only one game the past four seasons. He gave up only four sacks this past season, among the lowest in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.