In a recent article by NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas, it appears that the New Orleans Saints will need the magic pen and mathematical mind of general manager Mickey Loomis next off-season just as much or even more than they did this year.
Yasinskas has projected the Saints 2014 salary figure to be at around $139 million, well over the projected 2014 salary cap which he also says will not be over $125 million. If that is true and it reaches that amount, then the club will be at least $14 million in the red.
NOLA.com's Larry Holder also weighed in and noted the top 2014 salary cap eaters: QB Drew Brees ($18.4 million), DE Will Smith ($13.9 million), OG Jahri Evans ($11.01 million), OG Ben Grubbs ($9.1 million), WR Marques Colston ($8.3 million), S Roman Harper ($7.9 million), CB Jabari Greer ($6.825 million), DT Broderick Bunkley ($6.1 million), LB Curtis Lofton ($5.2 million), and WR Lance Moore ($5.07 million)
As Holder also notes in his article, the Saints could save a total of $17.75 million if they outright release Smith and Harper in a move that some including myself think should have happened this season. There will surely be restructures on the horizon for all those on this list except Brees.
While one would be quick to point to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's restructure this season to help free up cap room as he did, Brees situation would only be "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul." All it would do is snowball his cap number for future seasons and put the Saints in a real crunch then.
The Saints should be okay for 2014 provided that all parties involved are able to come to a reasonable solution to their respective numbers. Smith is the most obvious for a serious reduction or an outright release in 2014 unless he just has a stellar season.
Tight end Jimmy Graham will be a free agent in 2014 and the Saints would like to take care of that before the end of this season. While he may not score a six-year, $53 million extension like Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, it won't be for the bare minimum either.