The NFL salary cap is always an interesting, mysterious topic that draws a lot of attention in the offseason, especially around the time of free agency, which is to begin on March 11, 2014. While a player's cap figure towards the overall team cap might come across as the amount of money a player receives per year, it actually is not. In fact, the cap figure largely depends on how the contract is spread through a couple different factors such as signing bonuses, cash incentives, and guaranteed money. Year by year the cap figure changes depending on how the money fluctuates. Contract extensions are often used to ease up the tension immediately, but the back end of the contract will be heavy.
The predicted salary cap for the 2014 season is $126.3 million per team. According to Over the Cap, a website that specializes in salaries in sports, the Saints have more than $139 million committed towards the 2014 cap, putting them about $12 million over. It very well could be higher depending on how dead money is resolved in the offseason. While this may seem like cause for concern, this can be taken care of with just a few transactions if the Saints are willing to do so. So without further adieu, let's dive into some of the figures.
|Drew Brees||$18,400,000||John Jenkins||$656,890|
|Will Smith||$13,902,451||Corey White||$614,125|
|Jahri Evans||$11,000,000||Travaris Cadet||$571,667|
|Jabari Greer||$5,825,000||Tyrunn Walker||$571,100|
|Lance Moore||$5,068,750||Kenny Stills||$543,613|
|Marques Colston||$8,300,000||Glenn Foster||$497,333|
|Ben Grubbs||$9,100,000||Rod Sweeting||$496,666|
|Darren Sproles||$4,250,000||Kevin Reddick||$496,666|
|Roman Harper||$5,870,000||Tim Lelito||$496,666|
|Curtis Lofton||$5,200,000||Khiry Robinson||$495,333|
|Brodrick Bunkley||$6,112,500||Josh Hill||$495,000|
|David Hawthorne||$3,510,000||Chris Chamberlain||$400,000|
|Pierre Thomas||$2,900,000||Chris Givens||$570,834|
|Keenan Lewis||$4,550,000||Kyle Knox||$420,000|
|Patrick Robinson||$2,394,333||Adrian Davis||$423,334|
|Cam Jordan||$2,459,991||Ryan Griffin||$495,000|
|Mark Ingram||$2,359,875||Andrew Tiller||$56,000|
|Thomas Morstead||$3,235,000||Rufus Johnson||$78,981|
|Kenny Vaccaro||$2,141,980||Terrance Frederick||$420,000|
|Junior Galette||$2,900,000||Marcel Jones||$24,300|
|Ben Watson||$1,700,000||Ty Nsekhe||$495,000|
|Victor Butler||$1,875,000||Derek Dimke||$420,000|
|Justin Drescher||$860,000||Derrius Brooks||$420,000|
|Akiem Hicks||$718,225||Martez Wilson||$164,081|
Immediately, the glaring issues that you probably will have with this list come from Will Smith, Lance Moore, Roman Harper, Marques Colston, and Mark Ingram. All five of these players have done a lot for the Saints' team and organization, but their cap figure to me is well over their worth, especially Smith and Harper. To alleviate some of the cap pressure, the Saints may choose to cut, trade, or restructure these players. The most likely to be cut in my opinion would be either Smith, Harper, or Ingram. Several players such as Pierre Thomas, David Hawthorne, Nick Toon, and Patrick Robinson are toss-ups and could get cut just as easily as remaining on the team.
Another dicey situation is the contract of Drew Brees. Because he was signed to an extension a couple of years ago, he is entering the more expensive years of his contract. His $18.4 million cap figure is extremely steep and it only gets worse from here on out. Drew reportedly has stated that if he is approached about making his contract more team friendly, he will do so. There is a good chance of this happening, as it would create a good deal of cap space for the Saints to either resign current players or target free agents.
As I said earlier, the Saints' rough-looking cap situation could be flipped fairly easily if Loomis makes a couple of transactions. The quickest way would probably be to cut some of the overpaid and underused players outright, but that is easier said than done. It is important that Loomis divides the team's money evenly because this offseason will likely define the fiscal state of the team for the next five years.