Cameron Jordan is entering his 11th NFL season in a unique position.
With the retirement of Drew Brees and departure of Thomas Morstead this offseason, Jordan is now the longest-tenured member on the Saints' roster. Already a team captain for most of his career, the dominant defensive end will also be a key figure for the club as it moves on from the Brees era.
Jordan, who turns 32 in July, is treating his next chapter as a warm-up rather than a cool-down.
"Year  is really Year 1 starting back up again," he said last week, per ESPN. "Ten years behind me, ten years ahead of me. … I'm more rejuvenated than ever before."
When Jordan arrived in 2011, the first-rounder joined a team two seasons removed from winning Super Bowl XLIV. His breakout third season in which he earned 12.5 sacks and his first of multiple Pro Bowl selections positioned him as a defensive pillar. That role would increase in importance during the offseason after the club parted ways with key veterans such as Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins.
Over the next seven seasons, Jordan compiled 73 sacks, 144 QB hits and 369 tackles, becoming one of the NFL's best pass rushers in the process. The outspoken defender believes that experience was necessary to his growth as a professional.
"This has been my same role the last seven years since we had that big excavation back in '14," Jordan said. "Guys were looking up to me, and then I didn't know how to truly handle it. I was just young enough where I was trying to figure out my own way as well.
"But then the last seven years, it's been the young bucks coming in … and they're looking to learn and take everything from you in terms of the knowledge that you have to give. You have to be able to disperse that knowledge and you have to be able to push them."
The 2021 offseason saw the Saints undergo another phase of notable change. Aside from saying bye to Brees, the team moved on from Sheldon Rankins, 2020 sacks leader Trey Hendrickson and Malcom Brown, who were all instrumental to New Orleans' smothering defense of the last few years alongside Jordan.
Young guns David Onyemata, 2018 first-rounder Marcus Davenport and Shy Tuttle , an undrafted prospect in 2019, will be asked to pick up the slack. In addition to the increased attention he'll receive as both a mentor and leader, Jordan will look to bounce back from recording his fewest sacks in a season (7.5) since 2016.
Now one of the elder statesmen in the locker room, Jordan cited the careers of Calais Campbell and Brandon Graham, as well as Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Michael Strahan, as examples of players he studied that continued to dominate the sport after turning 30.
Only time will tell if Jordan, a player who's only missed game came during his rookie season, will follow in their footsteps.