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NFL announces $167-million salary cap for 2017, Saints top 20 in cap space

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The NFL’s official salary cap for the 2017 season came in slightly lower than expected, but the Saints are headed for free agency in better shape than the past few years combined.

TAMPA, FL - New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks with quarterbacks Drew Brees (9) and Luke McCown (7) during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
TAMPA, FL - New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks with quarterbacks Drew Brees (9) and Luke McCown (7) during a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium.
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The NFL announced its official salary cap for the 2017 fiscal year, setting the bar at an even $167-million. That’s the highest its ever been and continues the annual growth we’ve seen since the new collective bargaining agreement was reached a couple of years ago.

All teams benefit from a higher salary cap but it may help the Saints more than most. The Saints will receive an additional $3.2-million or $7.8-million depending on how they designate the release of safety Jairus Byrd, which will place them firmly in the top 20 teams in salary cap room. They can free up more cap space by restructuring the contracts of starting offensive linemen Terron Armstead, Max Unger, and Zach Strief, or by signing starting safety Kenny Vaccaro to a contract extension.

After Byrd’s expected release, the Saints will have the seventh-most players under contract for 2017 with 63 of 90 roster spots filled. That means they won’t have to sign warm bodies to fill a locker as in the past, while teams like the Green Bay Packers (47 under contract), New England Patriots (50), and Atlanta Falcons (51) have a lot of work to do in retaining their own free agents.

We’re still a week out from the dawn of free agency, but it should be a fun experience for Saints fans. Which free agents would you like to see the Saints pursue?