November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis on the field after severing an eight game suspension before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Now comes the nerve-racking time for teams whose season is over and the focus goes into draft and free agency. Actually it’s free agents, both internal and external, that will be dealt with by all 32 NFL teams. For general manager Mickey Loomis, it’s as easy as balancing my meager checkbook.
Reports vary on the amount but the Saints are reported to be $17.5-$19 million over the projected $121 million 2013 salary cap. A daunting task no doubt, but for the Rumpelstiltskin of the front office it shouldn’t be a problem.
The only issue that the Saints may have is what scheduled free agent offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod will want. Of course he’ll test the waters like offensive guard Carl Nicks did last year and it’ll depend on what the Saints feel he’s worth.
Obviously the elephant in the room that has been discussed by everyone is the huge contract by players like defensive end Will Smith who is due $14.5 million this season.
For players like Smith and a few others, they could be asked to restructure their deals to free up cap space. Smith should since for him the other option is to release him and then he faces having to find a team that won’t be giving him a big contract.
In a recent article on NOLA.com, there was a suggestion that other players like quarterback Drew Brees could help out by restructuring his contract. But Brees was quoted as saying “he wasn’t even sure he’d be amenable to a contract restructure.”
If you read between the lines on that, Brees won’t be taking one for the team. He also said that “every team at times loses somebody.” That’s also telling because it’s basically saying that if someone like Bushrod has to sign with another team than so be it because there won’t be any help from his salary.
Brees said last season that he would do what he could to help retain the core group of guys to continue a march to another championship. Cue the ensuing contract drama that lasted all the way up to training camp and the loss of Nicks and it didn’t happen so smoothly.
However Loomis once again worked his magic with restructuring other contracts and the Saints were able get Brees his money along with replacing Nicks with Ben Grubbs as well as upgrading the linebacking group with Curtis Lofton.
In fairness to Brees I wouldn’t be upset with him if he didn’t want to restructure his contract this year since it was recently done. But in the next few years, he may be asked to and hopefully will give a little.
Loomis will be looking to the future as well since tight end Jimmy Graham will be a free agent next season and look for a contract extension for him mid-season or at the end of 2013. So expect the phone to ring for a few players and their agents to help out on the tight salary cap.