The New Orleans Saints soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Drew Brees has one of the most intriguing contracts among quarterbacks.
In March of 2019, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints restructured his contract to a drop his salary from just over $33 million to roughly $25 million for the next two years, but they also added $21.3 million in dead money due to Drew Brees.
According to the NFL term dictionary, dead money “Refers to salary a team has already paid or has committed to paying (i.e., a signing bonus, fully guaranteed base salaries, earned bonuses, etc.) but has not been charged against the salary cap.
In business terms, it is essentially a ‘sunk cost.’
Any money a team pays a player must be accounted for against the salary cap. If there is dead money in a player’s contract and he is released or retires, that charge will accelerate onto the team’s salary cap for the current year.”
Therefore, the $21.3 million is already Drew Brees’ money whether he decides to come back or not.
The reason the New Orleans Saints did that is to save enough cap space to entice current tight end Jared Cook and current backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to sign with the Saints last offseason, but it put more dead money away for Drew Brees in the future.
Here are the implications this is going to have on the New Orleans Saints this offseason.
If Drew Brees decides to walk away from the New Orleans Saints and sign another contract this year, the Saints are still going to owe Drew Brees $21.3 million next year even though he would currently be on another team. The Saints would also take a cap hit for it.
If Drew Brees decides to stay, the New Orleans Saints will be required to pay Brees the $21.3 million in addition to whatever current contract he would sign. Most likely, the Saints would be looking around $35-40 million a year plus his dead money. They would also take a cap hit for this.
This is not the worst predicament that the Saints have put their salary cap in, but it is definitely not a healthy situation and needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
Especially since the Saints are going to need to pay superstars Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara in the next couple of years. Best case scenario, Brees takes less than $30 million per year and the $21.3 million dead money doesn’t make a huge cap impact next year.