It seems like every year, the New Orleans Saints front office has to jump through many hoops just to get their salary cap number to break even, let alone maintain a figure under it.
With the pandemic shrinking that cap number after the 2020 season, the challenge of staying under the cap didn’t become easier for the Saints. This resulted in many unfortunate cuts of quality players such as Emmanuel Sanders, Janoris Jenkins, Alex Anzalone, and Josh Hill, along with the inability to re-sign pricey free agents like Trey Hendrickson and Sheldon Rankins. Luckily, they were able to hang onto safety Marcus Williams via the franchise tag.
Though the Saints had to undergo something of a talent purge this off-season, the fact remains that the roster is still relatively talented, with most of the core pieces intact. This can be attributed to the phenomenal work of an unsung front-office employee, Khai Harley.
Khai Harley is an unsung hero in the New Orleans Saints front office
Harley, officially the team’s VP of football administration, is the man responsible for ensuring the team’s cap number is in line with the standards the NFL sets. And he does an excellent job.
Since he’s been with the organization, the Saints have almost always had cap space issues, even in off-seasons without a pandemic clouding over them. All the restructures, extensions and other roster moves that the Saints have executed? Those can all be credited to Harley, who explained some of his strategy in a recent article:
"“You understand you’re going into free agency and you have a certain number of free agents that you want to keep. OK, where are negotiations at? As one guy comes into the fold, that picture becomes clearer and now you can turn your focus and say, ‘Now that we have something concrete in one area, now we can look at these other areas.’ It’s really not a lot different than as you do a puzzle."
Harley definitely makes the salary cap sound a lot more fun than it appears to be. That’s what makes him so adept at doing his work.
Without his work, Saints fans can only wonder what the winning teams of the last few years would’ve looked like.