METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints right tackle Ryan Ramczyk said he has a cartilage defect in his knee that has cast uncertainty on his NFL future beyond the 2023 season.

The 29-year-old player, who missed the past two games with the knee injury, said he's going to talk with doctors in the offseason to see whether there is anything that could fix the issues that have lingered for the past three seasons.

"I don't know," Ramczyk said about a possible fix. "I think those are the discussions we are going to have, that need to be had, and we'll go from there. ... I'll talk with surgeons, doctors, get as much as information as I can and then just make the best decision."

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Ramczyk said that there is not a lot of cartilage left in the injured knee and that the wear and tear of playing in the NFL has taken its toll.

"This year it's bugged me a little bit more than it has in the past," he said. "At some point, I just couldn't play anymore."

Ramczyk said it was frustrating to have what he described as a "nagging problem," especially after entering this season with optimism that he could manage the injury.

He did not miss a game to injury in his first four NFL seasons, but then missed seven games in 2021 due to his knee. He did not have surgery, and he controlled the problem with injections in the 2022 offseason. He played all of the 2022 season without much incident.

"Last year was good. ... My knee was good. This offseason was good, I thought," Ramczyk said.

The Saints have managed Ramczyk's workload this season by giving him a rest day during every practice week. Pain management, however, has been an issue since Week 1.

"It really was Week 1 that my knee lit up," Ramczyk said. "So, kind of dealing with it all year. ... After that last [game], I think it was Carolina, I just couldn't go anymore."

He and the Saints are taking things week by week to see whether he could return for the season finale, or a playoff game, if the Saints make it to the postseason.

The 2017 first-round pick out of Wisconsin signed a five-year, $96 million extension in 2021 that made him the highest-paid right tackle in the league. He still has three years remaining on that deal.

"I feel like I'm not done yet. I feel like I still want to play," Ramczyk said. "I feel like I'm still passionate about the game. When you think about it like that, my mind frame is, 'I want to play, and I want to keep doing it, so what can I do to get better, to not have this happen in-season?'"

There will be significant salary cap implications for the Saints if Ramczyk retires. His cap number of $27 million will be the Saints' second-highest number in 2024, and the team is projected to be significantly over the cap again. Releasing Ramczyk before June 1 would result in a $32 million dead money hit due to the prorated signing bonus amounts remaining on his deal.

When former Saints quarterback Drew Brees retired in 2021, the Saints lowered his salary to the veteran minimum, allowing them to spend in free agency and spread out his cap hit over two years. Ramczyk will enter the 2024 offseason with a base salary of $17 million -- $6.5 million of which was guaranteed for injury, and that portion will become fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2024 league year.