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Noah Spence kicks off New Orleans Saints’ in-house signings

Noah Spence is coming off an offseason injury after missing the entire 2020 season. Can he stay healthy and contribute in 2021?

NFL: DEC 11 Saints at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints have re-signed former Tampa Bay pass rusher Noah Spence, per neworleans.football’s Nick Underhill. NOLA.com’s Amie Just appeared on the Locked On Saints podcast last week and discussed that the Saints may not lead off with the big names and moves right away but may go to more manageable contracts first, much like they did last year with long snapper Zach Wood.

That indeed proved to be true as New Orleans retains Spence on a one-year $990K deal, veteran minimum.

The biggest question will, of course, be about the Saints’ salary cap number. How are they able to re-sign Spence while still nearly $70M over the cap. The fact of the matter is that Khai Harley, Mickey Loomis, and the Saints front office don’t have to be compliant with the salary cap until March 17th when the new league year begins. Signing players before alleviating all of that debt is a pretty clear indication that the team has a plan to manage their books.

Additionally, Spence’s cap hit is less than that of the $990K base salary. That’s all thanks to two main elements.

  1. Veteran Salary Benefit. Any “qualifying” contract (veteran minimum) offered to a player with four or more accrued years will be charged to the team as a reduced cap hit equal to that of a player with only two accrued seasons.
  2. The Top-51 cutoff. During the offseason, only the 51 highest paid players count against the cap. When a new player is signed that lands in the top-51, another is pushed out. That means only the different between the player pushed from the group and the new contract actually generates a cap hit.

So what is Spence’s cap hit? This year’s two-year veteran minimum is only $850K. So despite Spence signing on for a $990K salary, his cap hit will be a little lighter.

As of now though, his cap hit is hardly noticeable thanks to the top-51 cutoff. Spence’s $850K cap hit pushed a $660M salary out of the top-51, therefore hardly moving the needle.

New Orleans could also add up to $137.5K in the form of a bonus or incentive if they so choose.

Spence’s opportunity after returning to New Orleans last offseason was cut short with an injury while preparing for camp. This season, hopefully he’ll get a chance to compete on Airline Drive and hit the football field again for the first time since 2019.

The Saints clearly like him; having brought him back twice now after a late-season pick-up two years ago. Making good on this opportunity would be a huge boost for Spence, and could add another pass rushing presence in the Big Easy.


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