Dec 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) is congratulated by quarterback Drew Brees (9) after a touchdown in the second quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Saints Salary Cap: Are You Sure You're Blaming the Right Person?

Restructure Drew Brees!‘, ‘Jimmy Graham is greedy!‘, ‘Let Jimmy Walk!

These are just a few of my favorite sayings I’ve heard recently around the New Orleans Saints salary cap situation.

While your arguments are duly noted, are you sure you are blaming the right person or player for the salary cap woes? Are you sure you understand the big picture?

Let’s start with Drew Brees’ contract breakdown, specifically this season.

Base Salary: $10,750,000
Prorated Salary: $7,400,00
Workout Bonus: $250,000
2014 Cap Number: $18,400,00

Now, of that $18.4M in this contract, would you believe that three quarterbacks are paid higher this season? That’s right, I am not kidding, and it’s not even the quarterbacks you would automatically think of.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears ($22.5M)
Eli Manning, New York Giants ($20.4M)
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers ($18.895M)

So, are you telling me that Drew Brees is not worth the paycheck? Let’s look at some of the ‘other guys’ from our good friends at Over the Cap.

Aaron Rodgers Packers $17,900,000
Sam Bradford Rams $17,610,000
Peyton Manning Broncos $17,500,000
Matt Ryan Falcons $17,500,000
Philip Rivers Chargers $16,666,666
Matt Stafford Lions $15,820,000
Tom Brady Patriots $14,800,000
Joe Flacco Ravens $14,800,000
Matt Schaub Texans $14,125,000

I’m curious if anyone could honestly tell me which of these quarterbacks you’d prefer on this list OVER Drew Brees? More importantly, why?

Now, here’s what you don’t know or see.

By 2016, Joe Flacco’s contract with the Baltimore Ravens will count as $28.5M against the salary cap. By 2017? $31.15M. By 2018? $24.750M. Perhaps this alone may make Who Dat Nation appreciate the fact that we don’t have a salary cap hog like Joe Flacco.

For Drew Brees, here’s his cap numbers for his final two seasons in New Orleans (at least we’re assuming).

2015 – $26.4M
2016 – $27.4M

Be glad Drew Brees’ contract isn’t Joe Flacco’s.

Let’s look at the rest of the ‘culprits’ of the New Orleans Saints salary cap situation.

Name Cap Dead Cap
Number Money Savings
Drew Brees $18,400,000 $22,200,000 ($3,800,000)
Jahri Evans $11,000,000 $8,500,000 $2,500,000
Ben Grubbs $9,100,000 $9,000,000 $100,000
Marques Colston $8,300,000 $10,100,000 ($1,800,000)
Jimmy Graham  $7,035,000 $0 $7,035,000
Brodrick Bunkley $6,112,500 $4,837,500 $1,275,000
Curtis Lofton $5,200,000 $8,000,000 ($2,800,000)
Keenan Lewis $4,550,000 $8,100,000 ($3,550,000)
Darren Sproles $4,250,000 $750,000 $3,500,000
David Hawthorne $3,510,000 $4,530,000 ($1,020,000)
Thomas Morstead $3,235,000 $3,100,000 $135,000

So, based on this, are you going to blame the Pro-Bowl Guards? I mean that’s two of the top five guards in the NFL. Even if they are getting older, they are still among the best in the league.

Name Team Cap number
Chris Snee Giants $11,300,000
Jahri Evans Saints $11,000,000
Logan Mankins Patriots $10,500,000
Carl Nicks Buccaneers $9,357,000
Ben Grubbs Saints $9,100,000

Do you really want to blame Marques Colston? Did you know that he’s only the 12th highest paid wide receiver in the NFL this season?

Name Team Cap number
Mike Wallace Dolphins $17,250,000
Andre Johnson Texans $15,644,583
Percy Harvin Seahawks $13,400,000
Calvin Johnson Lions $13,058,000
DeSean Jackson Eagles $12,750,000
Vincent Jackson Buccaneers $12,432,000
Dwayne Bowe Chiefs $12,000,000
Pierre Garcon Redskins $9,700,000
Brandon Marshall Bears $9,300,000
Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals $8,600,000
Steve Johnson Bills $8,500,000

Surely you don’t want to part ways with linebacker Curts Lofton. I mean, after all, all Lofton has done is led the team in tackles for his two seasons he’s been in New Orleans.

Surely you don’t want to part ways with cornerback Keenan Lewis. I mean, after all, Lewis was a considerable reason the team improved their dead last ranking in defense last season with a much improved pass defense.

For those who are all over Jimmy Graham, here’s what you need to understand. The franchise tag is there, and the team has to abide by the salary cap to compensate for it. In a long-term deal, the Saints could have Graham in less of a cap figure for this season, which could potentially free up some money. However, that’s just speculation at this point.

For those who are all over Drew Brees, realize that Drew Brees said he’s willing to restructure his contract.

“Whatever I can do to help this team, if they want to come to me and extend me even further, that’d be great.

Here’s some things to know, by restructuring a contract, the money becomes a bonus, and a player gets the same amount of money. Most teams will put this in the form of a ‘signing bonus’, and the team will prorate the money over the rest of the contract. For Drew Brees, who just turned 35 in January, stated that he would be open to extension, which would suggest that Brees would gladly finish his career in New Orleans. However, in his final two seasons, Brees will count for $53.8M against the salary cap. Perhaps an extension through 2019 could work, but if something happened this season, where is that money going?

In summary, to suggest that one specific player is to blame for the salary cap situation is a bit immature, especially if you aren’t looking at the details and facts. Restructuring a player is nothing but a band-aid, and this situation was inevitable for the Saints.

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Tags: Ben Grubbs Curtis Lofton Drew Brees Jahri Evans Keenan Lewis Marques Colston New Orleans Saints New Orleans Saints Free Agency New Orleans Saints Salary Cap 2014

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