I've been reading a lot of the posts on here lately. Some of you guys really know your college football and have depended on some of your opinions to see what we can get in the draft to help this team. I don't get to watch as much college ball as I would like, I work every Saturday.
I believe that the key to this offseason will be how well we draft. Because outside of role players and vets competing for position, I don't see the Saints adding any of the bigger name free agents, regardless of position.
Now I don't know all there is to know about contracts in the NFL, but I do know that the contracts signed (or restructured) by quite a few starters on this roster were cap friendly in 2012. That only means that those guys will get paid in 2013. Even with the subtraction of some existing salaries will come the rise of others. This is some of it:
Ben Grubbs was a 2.7 mil cap hit in 2012. As of now, he's a 7.3 mil hit in 2013. Another 4.6 mil.
Jahri was a 3.36 mil hit in 2012. Will be a 9.86 mil hit in 2013. Another 6.5 mil.
Colston was a 3.3 mil hit in 2012. Will be a 6.6 mil hit in 2013. Another 3.3 mil.
Lofton was a 1.7 mil hit in 2012. Will be a 7.1 mil hit in 2013. Another 5.4 mil.
Bunkley was a 1.6 mil hit. Will be a 4.7 mil hit in 2013. Another 3.1 mil.
Hawthorne was a 1.46 hit. Will be a 4.76 mil hit in 2013. Another 3.3 mil.
Oh you get the point. The Saints signed quite a few players that were supposed to greatly help the defense in 2012, and they agreed to sign to back loaded deals to get Drew in uniform. Now its time to pay those guys, the same guys who were part of a record worst defense in the league.
In my opinion, the loss of Bushrod and Smith is inevitable. Smith is due around 15 mil this season! Cutting Smith will cost the Saints financially but not to the level it will to retain him. Shanle and Devery are gone too in my opinion, but I don't think either will be as much of a loss.
But looking at the cap hit increase above versus the money saved by releasing a few guys, it could be a break even situation, even with some restructuring. Roman Harper could be another casuality (and I'd love to see him go), but for some reason I don't see it happening. I see this offseason as one that will try to keep most of the team together and hope the second year under Spags is better than the first. A season free of distraction, a season with the head coach aboard. I have a feeling that this is the best approach anyways. I know that sounds insane with how bad the defense played most of the season, but time may fix some things with a defense that wasn't too familiar with each other coming into last season.
So besides drafting a potential replacement for Bushrod, I think the whole draft should be defense. I'm sure most of you share the same thought. Free agency wise, signing anything of significance for any position we need will be extremely tough. This might be the most important draft for us in recent memory. I hope we can put together a solid one, regardless of if we trade down or not.