The New Orleans Saints roster will look much different come the 2021 season than it has in the past few seasons. Not only are there players that will leave in free agency, but the Saints are roughly $90 million over the salary cap. This means that a few players may need to be cut in order to help get New Orleans under the cap so they can operate with a bit more spending money on players they want to target.
Other ways to help under the cap are either restructuring or extending players, and we have already taken a look at which players the Saints may be willing to offer those to. Now, let’s take a look at five players that New Orleans could outright cut before the season:
Taysom Hill, Quarterback
While many fans believe that Hill is the potential quarterback of the future, it requires the Saints front office and coaching staff to feel the same way. It appears head coach Sean Payton is content letting Hill and Jameis Winston compete for the starting role, however, that was before Matthew Stafford hit the trading block.
Hill will have a salary cap hit just north of $16 million in 2021. However, if New Orleans is willing to pursue Stafford, or any other quarterback not named Winston, then Hill could end up being a cap casualty. Hill provides value in multiple roles not just on offense but within special teams as well. The question then remains is Hill worth the $16 million in 2021, or would some of the money saved be better used on a potential franchise quarterback or additional help for Winston?
In the end, cutting Hill would save the team $5 million, which after multiple extensions and restructurings for other players, could mean the difference in New Orleans getting the guy they want.
Nick Easton, Center/Guard
The Saints have always had injury concerns along their offensive line, and that was evidenced this past season. Easton was able to step in and play at an above replacement level, and at times was more reliable than Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz. The issue with Easton was the reoccurring concussions that kept him out of the later part of the season and the playoffs.
I hope Nick Easton is okay. He hasn't been cleared from concussion protocol since exiting Oct. 12's game with the Chargers. Going on 3 weeks for him— John Sigler (@john_siglerr) November 1, 2020
Easton is signed to a very team-friendly deal as far as his position and performance is concerned. If Easton were to be carried on the roster, the Saints would incur a $7 million cap hit. However, if he were cut, New Orleans would save $6 million, which would help the cap situation, but hurt the offensive line depth. One work around could be that the Saints use some of that saved money and extend James Hurst, who played very well in 2020 in the depth role.
Considering the cap savings and Easton’s injury history, this seems like a plausible cut for New Orleans.
Thomas Morstead, Punter
Other than quarterback Drew Brees, Morstead has been the longest tenured member of this current Saints squad. Some have mentioned how it would be poetic if both Morstead and Brees retired at the same time. However, Morstead appears to have a little bit left in him and may want to continue playing into the next few seasons.
I hope Thomas morstead retire with brees— (@0TB___) January 3, 2021
However, Morstead’s performance dropped in 2020 and the stashing of punter Blake Gilikin on injured reserve this season may have been indicative of the thoughts or worries of the front office and coaching staff at the position. Morstead is due $4.5 million this upcoming season, but a cut could save New Orleans $2.5 million. That could open the door for Gilikin to take over duties, or a punter could be signed in free agency for a much smaller cap hit.
It seems like it would be hard to pull the trigger on a Saints legend like Morstead, but if New Orleans is up against the cap and wants to add an impact player then they may see Morstead as a casualty. This is a business first and foremost. The storylines come second.
If the Saints want to add someone like Satfford then they will need to work quickly to restructure and make cuts. In order to obtain a player via trade the acquiring team must have the cap space to take on that player’s current salary. Once the player is on the roster they can then negotiate a new deal or extension to help alleviate the cap hit further. The players above may just be one piece to the gigantic puzzle.
Would cut these players if it meant trading for a franchise quarterback? 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.