Our friends at ESPN listed the Top 5 worst cap situations heading into the 2016 NFL offseason. Guess what? The Saints aren't number one!!
Believe it or not, the New Orleans Saints are actually listed at #5 with the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, New England Patriots, and Pittsburgh Steelers all finishing above the Saints. The Saints $155.2M cap commitment mark for 2016 was before the restructure of Cameron Jordan's contract. Even still, this number was below the $155.9M commitment of the Steelers, $159.1M of the Patriots, $166.3M of the Bills, and $166.9M of the Dolphins.
It should be noted that only #1 on the list, the Miami Dolphins, finished with a worse record than the New Orleans Saints, with two of the four teams (the Patriots and Steelers) both making the playoffs last season. Also, while the Dolphins have the highest cap hit of any team in the NFL, the ESPN article explains the Dolphins have the easiest route to create cap room by restructuring the cap hit of Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh. Number two on the list, the Buffalo Bills, are also able to free up almost 20 million in cap space by cutting Defensive End Mario Williams.
While the Saints are listed at #5 in ESPN's article of "Worst Cap Situations," it is important to recognize that this list is based entirely on the cap commitment amount for 2016. It does not take into consideration the holes each team needs to fill with the remaining cap space. With the Patriots and Steelers having made the playoffs in 2015, their positional needs are obviously fewer than the New Orleans Saints. The Bills finished the 2015 season at .500, but cutting Mario Williams seems like a no-brainer to allow the team to spend money in free agency. Even the lowly 6-10 Dolphins might have the biggest current cap hit, but they will be able to free up a significant amount of money by re-designating a portion of Suh's roster bonus as a signing bonus.
So even though the New Orleans Saints are currently listed as ESPN's fifth-worst cap situation, they should more than likely be considered the worst. The Saints have a laundry list of needs heading into the 2016 NFL Draft and Free Agency, and are only able to truly free up the cap space to do so if they make some potentially difficult decisions ahead.