Mickey Loomis, Khai Harley and the Saints front office have been hard at work recently trying to get the team under the NFL's salary cap prior to the start of the 2013 league year on March 12th.
Originally with $138.5 million committed toward the 2013 salary cap, second highest only to the New York Jets, the Saints had a tough road ahead of them. With the cap now expected to be $123 million, that means the Saints needed to free up about $15.5 million to get under.
First, the Saints restructured Curtis Lofton's contract, freeing up about $4 million. Then the team cut David Thomas and waived Johnny Patrick, which freed up another $2.9 million. Earlier this week, Loomis and Co. really got to work. They restructured Marques Colston's contract to gain an additional $2.1 million in cap space, Ben Grubbs' deal for another $3 million, David Hawthorne for $2 million and Jahri Evans for an additional $3 million plus.
That means in total, the Saints have thus far freed up about $17 million. So if the original cap figures were accurate, the Saints should now be under the 2013 salary cap by nearly $1.5 million. Take into account the fact that the Saints can carry over a $2.7 million cap adjustment, and the Saints should be in even better shape, under by about $4 million.
There seems to be some debate, however, about the Saints' original 2013 salary cap commitment. Bradley Handwerger reports that the Saints started off with $144 million committed toward the 2013 cap, $6.5 million more than Pat Yasinskas' figure of $138 million used above. That would mean the Saints are still over the salary cap by about $2.5 million.
I have no idea whose figure is more accurate but somebody's numbers are wrong. Hopefully it's Handwerger.
Regardless, there's still more work to be done if the Saints want to sign any free agents, either their own or another team's. Restructure offers have already been made to Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma. Their acceptance would free up a big chunk of change. Roman Harper's contract carries a 2013 cap hit of $7.1 million and Brodrick Bunkley's is set to count $4.7 million against the cap. There's even more wiggle room for the Saints, should those two decide to restructure.
So have no fear, Saints fans, because a once bleak situation is looking much brighter now.