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Im writing this as pure speculation, obviously. It's a mish-mash of what I think will happen and what I would like to see happen. Salary Cap is hard to keep track of since the Saints don't know what certain players will get. I will try my best to keep it realistic.
Estimated Salary Cap - $121 Million
Current Salary spent - $94 Million
QB- We have the biggest, most important person to resign. He will be back, and will probably garner a $15-20 Million/per year contract. Meaning, if you take a middle road and say $17 Million, the Saints have $11 Million free to spend. Offer Chase Daniel a structured deal but at a conservative figure.
RB- The Saints have 4 RBs under contract for next year, all of them pretty good, so thats a good thing.
FB- Jed Collins had a very good year and will be back.
WR- Marques Colston is 3rd on my list of Free Agents that need to be resigned. In 2008, he signed a 3 yr/$8 Million contract. With his knee questions still lingering, I would expect a similar contract this go around as well. Something like 3 yr/$10 Million should keep him, and that would leave us with around $7 Million in free space. I think Robert Meachem walks and the Saints will let Joe Morgan step up and have his shot, the guy is faster than Meachem anyways.
TE- The Saints have arguably the best TE in the game under contract, I dont expect him to demand a new deal just yet, but maybe next off season the Saints can give him the big money. The Saints have our backups under contract too. I wouldnt be surprised to see David Thomas cut, freeing up around $1.7 Million.
OT- Bushrod and Strief are under contract for next season. Both do their job reasonably well for the money they make.
G- Carl Nicks, the 2nd most valuable Free Agent for this off season, will demand top money, somewhere around $8 Million/year is the number ive seen. I fully expect the FO to give it to him, no questions asked. Nicks and Evans form the best Guard duo in the league. With his contract, the Saints are now $1 Million over.
C- De la Puente did a fine job this year, in my opinion. He's cheap and was thrown in there when Kreutz retired.
DL- Will Smith, in most opinions, will be released. This will free up around $10 Million. Franklin and Rogers will also be shown the door in all likelyhood. The Saints need to find some legitimate pass rushers for SpagNOLA, and I think Cliff Avril from DET would not only be attainable for a decent price, but he could be that outside rush that the Saints had in 2009 with McCray and Hargrove. He made $2.6 Million this past year, so I could see us giving him a 3 yr/$12 Million dollar deal. Calais Campbell is a name that jumps out at me. He was in the final year of his rookie contract this year. I say give him a contract of about 4 yr/$20 Million and solidify our pass rush. Move Cam Jordan inside, which he has the size for, and hope Sed Ellis steps his game up. Greg Romeus is a sleeper, if he comes in fully healthy and ready to go, he could easily be a beast on the outside.
LB- Vilma seems to be thought of as history, so if that happens, the Saints would free up around $6.5 Million in cap space. A name that jumps out at me off the FA list is Curtis Lofton. The Saints have seen many Saints leave and go to ATL, could the Saints possibly convince Curtis to come to NO? He is coming out of his rookie contract and will probably look to make big money, so lets give it to him, 5 yr/$35 Million. I could see Shanle being let go, and Spags bringing in Poppinga from STL to replace him. Poppinga basically does the same job as Shanle, except he does it for around a Million less than him. I would love to see Martez Wilson as our Will backer next season, and let Poppinga and Dunbar battle it out for the Strong side backer.
CB- I, along with pretty much everyone else, expect Porter to be gone next year. He wasnt himself this year. Definitely not the playmaker we saw in 2009. I think someone who could come in and play the nickel/dime packages well and also could help give Sproles a break in the return game is Will Blackmon. He is cheap, at $685K this past year,so I think the Saints could sign him for around $800K. Greer and PRob will in all likelyhood be our starting CB next year with Johnny Patrick and Blackmon rotating around the secondary.
S- A position the Saints are set at for the near future, with Jenkins at FS and Harper locked into a heavy contract at SS. Hopefully Jenkins bounces back from a down year and shows the playmaking ability we know he has, and Harper just stays at his level of SS play. Quddus and Amaya provide decent depth behind them.
ST- I expect Kasay to retire this offseason, and Hartley to come back and be our guy. Morstead is the best P in the game, in my opinion, along with his strong foot in the Kick Off game.
After all is said and done, the Saints would be around $1 Million under the cap with the moves I made and I think the Saints would be in a better position than last year.
This would be our depth chart:
QB- Brees, Daniel
RB- Thomas, Sproles, Ivory
WR1-Colston, Devery, Morgan
WR2-Arrington, Moore, Roby
TE- Graham, Higgins, Gilmore
LOT- Bushrod, McQuistan
C- De la Puente, Tennant
RG- Evans, Olsen
ROT- Strief, McQuistan
LDE- Avril, Romeus, Charleston
LDT- Jordan, Johnson
RDT- Ellis, Johnson
RDE- Campbell, Galette, McBride
WLB- Wilson, Bussey
MLB- Lofton, Humber
SLB- Dunbar, Poppinga
CB- Greer, PRob, Patrick, Blackmon
FS- Jenkins, Quddus
SS- Harper, Amaya
KR- Blackmon, Sproles
PR- Blackmon, Sproles