An early look at the New Orleans Saints 2016 Salary Cap Figures


There’s a lot going on with the New Orleans Saints during their bye week. With 6 games left in their 2015 regular season, it isn’t technically over, but what little optimism existed prior to Sunday’s blowout loss to the Washington Redskins continues to dwindle. The future of the organization becomes increasingly cloudy – especially during the bye week – and the team’s impending salary cap situation won’t help things out.

We take a look at the state of the 2016 New Orleans Saints, courtesy of Over the Cap.

2016 – Top 11 Cap Numbers

For those wondering, between these 11 players there’s $101.46 million tied up in next year’s salary cap. As it stands, the Saints have a total cap number of $154.1 million currently. That includes the $14.80 million in dead money, which is thanks largely in part to the team cutting Junior Gallete, who is owed $12.1 million in 2016. For some perspective, the 2015 NFL Salary Cap was set at $143.28 million.

2016 – Savings Opportunities

  • Drew Brees – $20 million
  • Max Unger – $4.5 million
  • Dannell Ellerbe – $4.5 million
  • Thomas Morstead – $3.25 million
  • Marques Colston – $3.2 million
  • David Hawthorne – $2.25 million
  • Zach Strief – $1.3 million
  • Jahri Evans – $1.1 million

These figures are based on cutting ties with a respective player prior to June 1. Naturally, I’m not suggesting that these players should be cut, and there’s also an opportunity in the way of a restructured deal to save money. However, you see this practice being used that essentially ‘massages’ the cap figure. A player is not out any less money when he’s restructured. A player’s base salary is typically converted into the form of a signing bonus, and the rest of the money saved on the surface is prorated over the duration of the contract.

Difficult Decisions Ahead

I don’t have to tell many of you that it’s a bit concerning that the New Orleans Saints have some $46.76 million invested into 6 defensive players next season: Jordan, Byrd, Lewis, Browner, Ellerbe, and Hawthorne. Of those, Hawthorne will likely find himself as the odd man out, and Jordan won’t obviously be released. Let’s look at other scenarios and their potential impact.

  • Cutting Browner causes $5.35 million in dead money, and will only create $950K in savings.
  • Cutting Lewis doesn’t seem to be an option, as the New Orleans Saints will absorb $7.2 million in dead money, and lose an additional $850K.
  • Cutting Byrd would generate $11.4 million in dead money, and cost the Saints an additional $500K.
  • Ellerbe would offer the best course in terms of a restructure or release, as he would generate $4.5 million in savings; there’d also be a $1.4 million charge in dead money. That would be very comparable to what the team did with Brodrick Bunkley. I don’t believe he’d be a viable candidate for release, given his impact when healthy.

Next: How the New Orleans Saints can defy the 2016 salary cap

Ultimately, the NFL’s salary cap figure tends to raise itself every season. The original projection for the 2015 season was around $138 million, but came in considerably higher. Since 2013, the salary cap has jumped up $10 million each season, which is something that does bode well for the Saints. However, general manager Mickey Loomis will once again have to work his magic to simply make things work in New Orleans.