We continue series that will likely span the length of the entire New Orleans Saints offseason where we look a key questions the Saints will face at various points of the year - the 2018 NFL Draft, free agency, and the 2018 regular season. We turn next to a financial and logistical question for the Saints this offseason: where will the extra money come from for the Saints to spend this offseason?
New Orleans Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has been a wizard in free agency the past decade. While the Saints have been constantly strapped for cap space, it’s taken restructures, trades, cuts, and cleverly-structured contracts to free agent contracts to keep the Saints afloat. So even though the Saints will have more cap space than they have had to work with in the recent past, it won’t be a surprise to see Mickey still wave his magic cap wand and create even more space to make big splashes in free agency.
So where will the money come from?
Terron Armstead currently has the second biggest cap hit for the Saints in 2018 at $13 million (or 8.79% of the total cap) and would seem the most likely candidate for a restructure. Other candidates for a restructure would be Max Unger ($8 million) and Thomas Morstead ($4.85 million). Larry Warford has the third highest cap hit at $9 million, but it would be unlikely he’d be released (as his $6.3 million dead cap hit would be a major hurdle) or restructured as he’s only recently signed his deal to come to New Orleans in the first place last offseason.
Zac Strief ($3.875 million) could consider retirement. Coby Fleener ($8 million, with a $4.8 dead cap number) could be outright released.
Then there’s also the ongoing saga with Nick Fairley where the Saints are holding out hope they won’t be on the hook for Fairley’s entire $30 million dollar contract. We also have the issue with Drew Brees.... you know, his little contract. After Jimmy Garoppolo signed an extension with the 49ers yesterday making him the highest paid (per year) QB in the NFL at $27.5 million, Drew is not likely to come cheap. But he’s currently got a $6 million cap hit set for 2018 that becomes a $18 million dead cap figure if he’s not extended.
With the Saints looking to add an athletic linebacker to the front seven of the defense, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see the Saints move on from A.J. Klein and his $5.2 million salary if there would be a taker in a trade. Cameron Jordan has the biggest cap hit for the Saints currently at a little over $14 million (or a little over 9% of the total cap), but maybe the Saints try to extend Jordan now and defer some of his money.
Then there are others like Nate Stupar ($2.8 million), Craig Robertson ($2 million), Andrus Peat ($3.6 million), and Josh Hill ($2.8 million) who could shockingly find themselves part of a trade this offseason.
So with Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton’s history, it’s almost certain that the Saints will make multiple roster moves to add to the Saints’ $32 million they currently have to work with this offseason.