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Jimmy Graham salary-cap savings: $2 million now, $25 million later

3/11/2015

The New Orleans Saints will eventually wipe a total of $27 million off the books by trading Jimmy Graham to the Seattle Seahawks. That’s how much Graham had left on the four-year, $40 million contract he signed last year.

But for salary-cap purposes, the Saints will save only $2 million in 2015, with the other $25 million being saved in 2016-17.

That’s because the Saints paid Graham a $12 million signing bonus last year, which was scheduled to be divided equally over four years on the salary cap. They had $3 million count against their cap last year. The remaining $9 million will now count against the cap this year. Then Graham will be completely off the books after that.

In the end, Graham’s historic contract (the richest in NFL history for a tight end) wound up being a one-year, $13 million deal for New Orleans -- and a three-year, $27 million deal for Seattle.

The trade doesn’t give the Saints immediate cap relief -- in fact, their cap number actually went up since they added center Max Unger, whose $4.5 million salary in 2015 all counts against the cap.

However, the Saints can still use the future cap space they saved to their advantage by signing new players to deals with back-loaded salary-cap costs (like what they’ve been doing with most of their big deals in recent years).

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Tuesday night the Saints will use the resources they acquired in the deal to help fix their defense.