Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Saints won 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
When the New Orleans Saints suit up for their season finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, you’re likely going to see the last of some respective players as a member of the black and gold. Technically, the season isn’t over, but you’d have to be completely naive or oblivious if you aren’t already looking ahead to the 2015 season.
You’d have to be living under a giant rock to not know that the salary cap is projected to be one giant mess for the Saints heading into the offseason (if you didn’t honestly know, stay tuned for a different article). However, it’s much like every other offseason we’ve grown accustomed to. At the end of the day, general manager Mickey Loomis simply makes it happen.
Let’s start with the list of free agents, but before that, let’s define them to make it easy.
Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) – Player is free to sign with any team. He would not have a contract with his current team. You would need to play four years, or get cut, to be in this category.
Restricted Free Agent (RFA) – Player has only three years of experience, and would not have a contract with his current team. Any team would have the option to make a contract offer, but the team (Saints) would be able to match/retain that player with said offer.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents (ERFA) – Player is not under contract, and has not reached three years of experience. If the team makes said player an offer at the three-year veteran minimum, the player has a ‘take it or leave it’ option. There is no negotiation with other teams.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents
Terrence Frederick, Cornerback
Adrian Davis, Cornerback
Pierre Warren, Safety
Restricted Free Agents
Tyrunn Walker, Defensive End
Senio Kelemete, Guard
Bryce Harris, Tackle
Travaris Cadet, Running Back
Unrestricted Free Agents
Jamarca Sanford, Safety
Patrick Robinson, Cornerback
Luke McCown, Quarterback
Cheta Ozougwu, Defensive End
Moise Fokou, Linebacker
Brandon Deaderick, Defensive Tackle
Robert Meachem, Wide Receiver
Ramon Humber, Linebacker
Mark Ingram, Running Back
Parys Haralson, Linebacker
Shayne Graham, Kicker
Jonathan Goodwin, Center
Attitudes and feelings may be indifferent towards some players returning for the black and gold. Arguably, there were just too many issues with the team this year, and maybe an overhaul of the roster is the best way to go.
Meachem, Haralson, Graham, Goodwin, and McCown are all over 30, but each of their salary cap hits weren’t big. Most of them played this season for league minimums as a veteran.
Of the list of top priorities, running back Mark Ingram sits high and mighty as priority number one. Despite missing a handful of games this season, Ingram still has a chance to become the first Saints running back to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing since Deuce McAllister did so in 2006. Luckily for Ingram, that means he’s well on his way to a good pay-day, and it is likely not going to be from the Saints unless something miraculous happens.
Major work is to be done this offseason, and you can officially label the Saints under construction on December 29th.
What do you think is the best course of action for the Saints this offseason? Who are your top priorities in Free Agency right now?