Saints $1.5 Million in Salary Cap Room Means Long-Term Deal for Jimmy Graham

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints are only $1.5 million under the salary cap with Jimmy Graham's franchise tag, putting a lot of burden on the Saints 2014 cap figure and motivating the team to sign him to a long-term contract... or let him walk.

Now that we know Jimmy Graham has officially been tagged as a tight end, the Saints 2014 salary cap picture becomes a little clearer. At least temporarily.

Graham's current salary under his non-exclusive tag is currently on the books as $7,035,000. That's all base salary and no bonus pay so it all counts against the cap this year. That could change, of course, if/when a long term deal is reached or Graham's status under the tag changes to wide receiver, in which case his salary increases to $12,312,000.

All of that means as a team the Saints now have a total cap figure of $131,566,248 (cap spend of $121,481,959 + $10,450,051 in dead money). These numbers come from Over the Cap and include an adjustment for their 2013 carryover.

Which leaves the Saints with a paltry $1,567,990 of salary cap space. That's barely anything. Hell, the Saints are going to need that much just to sign their draft picks.

To say the Saints are strapped for cash would be an understatement and free agency is just a week away. Not an ideal situation. The Saints are going to have to restructure a few contracts to free up more money if they want to do anything significant in free agency.

The good news is that this all changes if/when Graham's contract status changes. Which means the Saints have motivation to sign Graham to a long-term contract and push a lot of that money into the future via prorated bonuses. Or let him walk to another NFL team making an offer.

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