As the calendar turns to June 2nd, one notable transaction will soon become official for the New Orleans Saints. Though he announced his retirement on the 15th anniversary of his signing, future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees will likely head to the NFL’s Reserve/Retired list, making his retirement “official” in terms of accounting.
Once that does happen, sooner or later, the Saints will get a small amount of cap relief in the process.
However, this doesn’t tell the entire story. Brees reduced his salary to the veteran minimum this offseason freeing up over $23M. As a part of this process that $1.075M minimum will come off the books. But corresponding moves will make it so that New Orleans won’t free up that entire chunk of change.
Only the 51 highest paid players count against the cap during the offseason, Brees’ retirement will move him out of that group while another player will move in. The next highest paid players outside of the top 51 are linebacker Chase Hansen, defensive linemen Albert Huggins, receiver Jake Lampman, and tackle Derrick Kelly all carrying cap hits of $780K.
When Brees’ $1.075M comes off the books, one of those salaries will move in resulting in a clearing of just $295K. That will add to the just over $347K the Saints reportedly have available according the the NFLPA.
That will leave the Saints, for now, with around $642K in free cap space once the transaction is official. Not enough to move the needle, but every little bit counts. New Orleans also has other ways to clear space. Of course, the well-known and highly anticipated extensions of young stars and an unlikely transaction that bolsters in potential today.
Now that the June 1st mark is behind us, New Orleans could open up a little over $3.1M by releasing running back Latavius Murray. Previously, the move would have only resulted in New Orleans netting about $2.3M. Now that the prorations defer, additional funds can come off the books.
While it is certainly not a move many (including myself) would advocate for, clearing $3.1M helps if the Saints get desperate. They could use that to help either sign their rookies or potentially add a veteran player at a position of need. As reported by Nick Underhill, the Saints would need about $2.5M more than their current balance to sign their rookie class.
Other than that, though, there really aren’t any available moves that save New Orleans substantial money. From here forward, what’s worth watching is the fate of Latavius Murray, who was reportedly being shopped earlier in the offseason, and the extensions for Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams in particular. With Williams on a franchise tag, the team has until July 15th to iron our a long-term deal.
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