James Hurst won’t be available for the first month of the 2020 season, but he’s still found employment.
Hurst has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, according to his agent.
As his agent tweeted, Hurst has made 44 starts in his career at a number of positions. In December, Baltimore’s depth chart essentially listed Hurst as a backup at both tackle positions and right guard. He was relied upon for six seasons to fill unexpected needs, rising from an undrafted free agent to a reliable sixth blocker who also received his fair share of chances to earn a permanent starting job in recent seasons.
Baltimore released Hurst in March following news of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The team used the draft to address its interior depth needs and re-signed veteran tackle Andre Smith to fill that void, using numbers to replace a veteran who could be counted on to step up in a time of need as a true swing lineman.
Hurst can serve as insurance for a Saints team that released Pro Bowl guard Larry Warford before he began his contract season. The release came as a result of the Saints drafting Michigan center/guard Cesar Ruiz, who will be expected to start from Day 1. In the event Ruiz struggles, Hurst can fill in reliably after he serves his suspension. Hurst can also provide depth at tackle, where the Saints have been forced in 2017 and 2018 to spend time without the reliable Terron Armstead, who hasn’t played a full season in his career.