The New Orleans Saints have a plethora of talented players, many of which have been drafted and developed. As with all contracts, many are about to expire and plenty of players will soon find themselves as free agents. Unfortunately, many of these free agents will hit the market during a global pandemic thanks to COVID-19, and therefore a lower salary cap due to loss of revenue.
For the first time in nearly a decade the NFL salary cap will decrease this offseason, in fact, it will fall almost $20 million to around $175 million. The Saints will have to prioritize who they want to re-sign this offseason due to the restricted cap. Plenty of players have “played” themselves into a big contract which will now force New Orleans to prioritize who to pay and who to let walk.
There are some impact players who will head into the offseason as unrestricted free agents (UFAs) and the Saints will need to sign some of them back to the roster. Here is the list of the biggest names:
- Jared Cook, TE
- Sheldon Rankins, DT
- Marcus Williams, FS
- Jameis Winston, QB
- Alex Anzalone, LB
- Trey Hendrickson, DE
- Kwon Alexander, LB (could be cut after season without a cap hit)
A couple of names you can cross off of the list are Cook and Anzalone. Adam Trautman has really proved himself capable of taking over Cook’s role at a much cheaper rate, something that will be valued come 2021. Anzalone is a capable linebacker, but if New Orleans decides to cut Alexander and then bring him back at a more team-friendly rate then Anzalone becomes a cap casualty.
The real question is can the Saints sign Trey Hendrickson? His 2020 season has been an absolute breakout as he has solidified himself as one of the top defensive players on the team. His 10.5 sacks leads the team and he might have just parlayed his performance into a massive payday and new contract.
Rankins could very well be signed to a team-friendly deal due to injury and performance history. He has proven he has the talent to be successful and he very well may be the cheaper option between himself and Hendrickson. While T-Rex has proven he can be a superstar, there just won’t be enough dollars to go around for all the stars. That may be a leading factor in why New Orleans decides to go with Rankins and hopes that his injury woes are behind him. Additionally, Rankins has proven that when he is on the field he is consistent, rather than Hendrickson who has just a single superb season under his belt.
Finally, the decision to re-sign Winston is on the horizon. Head coach Sean Payton has continually asserted that Drew Brees’s heir is in the building. While many fairly think that the coach is referring to Taysom Hill, I firmly believe he is alluding to Winston. Considering Winston had few suitors last offseason and he hasn’t played many snaps this season, he likely won’t have many options this offseason. None of that has even mentioned the salary cap issue every team will face.
Winston will likely be a priority for the team unless they trade for a project quarterback like Carson Wentz or Mitchell Trubisky. He will also come at a team-friendly deal which will help New Orleans with their cap situation as they currently sit at $96 million over the cap.
This offseason could be a massive turning point in the franchise, especially if Brees decides to retire and head to NBC’s booth. Financials will become ever more prevalent as the cap decreases and star players become free agents. All eyes will be on who the Saints prioritize.
Who do you think the Saints should prioritize in free agency? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @KadeKistner.