The bounty scandal may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean the New Orleans Saints are in for a quiet offseason.
Coach Sean Payton has to get reinstated from his season-long suspension and presumably signed to a new contract extension. His previous deal was voided by the NFL due to some language in the contract and that’s led to speculation that Payton could jump elsewhere.
There still could be some turbulence on that front. But even if things go smoothly with the reinstatement and the contract, the Saints still face a huge offseason issue: the salary cap.
At the moment, the Saints have $137.5 million committed toward the 2013 cap. That’s second only to the New York Jets ($142.5 million). The exact cap won’t be set until the spring, but the NFL has told teams to prepare as if the cap is going to be $120 million. It’s likely to be a little higher than that, but the Saints are going to be way over whatever the cap is.
That means they’re going to have to make some difficult choices because they have a lot of veterans with big cap numbers. Undoubtedly, they’ll restructure some deals and quarterback Drew Brees, who has the biggest cap figure at $17.4 million isn’t going anywhere.
But the Saints, who also will need to make room to re-sign some of their own free agents and pursue players from other teams (and, later on, sign a draft class), almost certainly will have to release some big-name players to get under the cap by March.
I’m looking at the individual cap figures for 2013 and here’s a list of guys that jumped out at me as being candidates for restructure or release:
Defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, $4.7 million
Receiver Marques Colston, $6.6 million
Guard Jahri Evans, $9.8 million
Cornerback Jabari Greer, $5.4 million
Guard Ben Grubbs, $7.3 million
Safety Roman Harper, $7.1 million
Linebacker David Hawthorne, $4.8 million
Linebacker Will Herring, $1.9 million
Linebacker Curtis Lofton, $7.1 million
Receiver Lance Moore, $4.7 million
Defensive end Will Smith, $14.5 million
Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, $8.6 million