It’s very early in the NFL offseason, but teams are already preparing for what is to come. The New Orleans Saints weren’t expecting to be in this position. Nevertheless, they now must plan for what is going to be a trying offseason. The team has many questions pertaining to the quarterback position and could be in trouble financially.
The team has always pushed the limits when it comes to their cap space. With Drew Brees on their roster, they wanted to supply him with weapons for a championship run. Now that Brees is likely to retire, they now must assess the damage they did.
The New Orleans Saints could have $100 million worth of problems
Because of the Saints’ all-in approach, they will have a cap situation like no other heading into 2021. They are $68 million over the projected salary cap of $198 million as it stands right now. However, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the league’s salary cap situation for next season. It has been reported that 2021’s salary cap could drop to $185 million. That makes New Orleans’ financial situation even worse.
If the cap drops that low, it will increase how much the Saints are over the cap. They would be $81 million over that figure. The worst-case scenario would be the league salary cap dropping to $175 million. According to CBS Sports, that is what most league cap experts believe. In that scenario, The Saints would be $91 million over the cap.
That situation would be nearly insurmountable for the Saints. They wouldn’t be able to sign many free agents or even sign the players they draft being that much over the cap. New Orleans mortgaged their future to win with Brees, and now the repercussions of that have arrived. Some cap experts aren’t sure how the team will escape this.
“Man, I don’t know what they do after this. This is about as bad as anything I have seen. They are really all-in with no wiggle room,” said one cap manager per CBS Sports.
The Saints are still in win-now mode despite their financial situation
The potential of being almost $100 million over the cap isn’t something the Saints expected when the season started. Now that they are in this situation, the team must analyze their roster before making any moves. General manager Micky Loomis acknowledged that an evaluation of the roster is needed before jumping to any decisions.
Look, for sure it’s going to be challenging. And yet, I don’t want to speculate as to how challenging it’s going to be until we have a better understanding of what’s going to be available — not just for this year, but even for the year after… it’s going to be daunting,” said Loomis per ESPN.
Although the Saints have one of the most challenging salary cap situations in football, they aren’t entering rebuilding mode. They have plenty of talent on the roster, with stars like Alvin Kamar and Michael Thomas being on long term contracts. Loomis believes New Orleans can still compete for a championship.
“Listen, we’ve got a great roster. And I can’t foresee a circumstance where we’re not going to say, ‘Man, we’re gonna do everything we can to win — win now and compete for a championship,'” said Loomis.
How can the Saints get closer to the cap?
Given their financial situation, the New Orleans Saints must find a way to get closer to the cap. There will be some important players they will need to re-sign to keep their team competitive. However, they won’t be able to sign everyone because their cap situation is so dire. New Orleans will have to make some tough decisions on some key contributors.
One decision could be made for them and save them considerable money. Drew Brees hasn’t announced if he is retiring yet, but the expectation is that he will. If Brees retires, the Saints will save at least $13.5 million toward their cap. That would be extremely helpful for a cap-strapped team. The savings from Brees’ contract could help them re-sign Jameis Winston, who will be a free agent.
New Orleans can save more money if they let more players walk. Veteran tight end Jared Cook is an impending free agent, but letting him go could save the team $11 million. Letting Janoris Jenkins and Kwon Alexander go would save the Saints another $17 million in cap space. That is only a few of the numerous roster moves New Orleans can execute to get closer to the projected $175 million cap.
The New Orleans Saints have a challenge ahead of them with their salary cap. With a championship ready team, the team must make the proper moves financially to get them in good graces with the cap. The Saints have no interest in rebuilding the team despite potentially being in a $100 million hole.