The New Orleans Saints have always been noted for their mastery of navigated the NFL salary cap. Restructures, void years, escalators, they have always received attention for their monetary gymnastics. It was no different in 2021 when the salary cap took a dive for the first time since it was implemented in 1994. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic limiting, and in many cases eliminating, fan attendance across the league, revenue took a big hit.
Thus, the 2021 salary cap fell from $198.2M in 2020 to $182.5M in 2021. This was after parties had agreed upon a “floor” or minimum to which the cap could drop. Thankfully, particularly for the Saints, the final total came in higher than expected. Now, it looks like a similar expectation could be in play for 2022.
On Thursday, the NFL announced that the 2022 salary cap would have a ceiling of $208.2M. A different approach than they 2021 league year. This is a $10M increase from the 2020 amount. Being that the salary cap had been rising around $10M per year on average, the original expectation for 2022 was $218M. Meaning things aren’t what you’d call “back”, but this is a good move forward.
Per source, the NFL and the NFLPA have agreed to a salary cap ceiling of $208.2 million for the 2022 season. If it gets there, that would be a 14 percent increase over the 2021 cap of $182.5 million. (more)— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) May 26, 2021
But what does it mean for the New Orleans Saints who had to restructure and push a healthy amount of money from this year into the future in order to combat their $100M 2021 overage? Well, it means they can feel free to continue to maneuver the way they usually do.
According to Over the Cap, the Saints currently have 43 players on their 2022 roster. Of those, four (Drew Brees, Terron Armstead, Taysom Hill, and Jameis Winston) are not actually on contract but appear for dead money and/or void year purposes.
That leaves 39 players on on the future roster. The combination of those players take up a whopping $207.6M. Meaning the Saints currently have very little to their name and less than half of a preseason roster.
All teams are looking for as much cap space as possible, including those already heavy on the books. 6 teams already have cap commitments north of $200M for 2022, via @Jason_OTC:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) May 26, 2021
1. Packers: $237M
2. Cowboys: $228M
3. Rams: $212M
4. Saints: $208M
5. Giants: $202M
6. Bills: $201M https://t.co/kXNd0bnGpR
However, these are the New Orleans Saints after all. General Manager Mickey Loomis along with capologist and Vice President of Football Operations Khai Harley are virtuosos of the cap and have some easy moves they can start with just before the new league year begins.
Three players have base salaries of $10+M, making them immediate restructure candidates: Michael Thomas, Cam Jordan, and Andrus Peat. Marcus Davenport could perform his was into an extension this season which would help alleviate this $9.5M base salary. Moving on from players like Latavius Murray and Malcolm Jenkins could save over $3.4M a piece (while incurring over $8M in dead cap, however).
Mickey Loomis, Khai Harley and Co. effectively bought cap space before the 2021 league year on March 17th with an $100K signing bonus— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) May 26, 2021
Sanders had a $2M 2021 roster bonus that would’ve accelerated onto 2020 but it was subject to offsets anyway, so he agreed to remove for $100K
There will be plenty of moves available to allow for New Orleans to maintain talent, clear the space needed to add players, and to chip away at the overage that should face them in 2022. Remember, the Saints currently only have 39 players on contract and sit right at the limit. That should be exceeded once the potential extensions for Ryan Ramczyk, Marcus Williams, and (pending his offseason situation) Marshon Lattimore are in place.
Don’t be surprised to see folks keenly focus in on the Saints’ salary cap situation in 2022 since they’ll likely be over by a healthy margin. But regardless of how it’s being covered outside of New Orleans, no need to fret. The Saints have overcome much more when it comes to the sometimes seemingly fictitious salary cap. Defying the expectations won’t be a chore for this group.
How do you feel about the Saints’ upcoming salary cap situation? 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, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @RossJacksonNOLA and subscribe to my daily Saints podcast, Locked On Saints and checkout the Locked On Saints YouTube channel.