NOLA Saints’ ability to create cap space will be put to the ultimate test this offseason

New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints have lived in cap hell for so long they’ve practically built a house there. Drew Brees helped them out last season, but all he really did was build another house in the next circle of hell.

As the team continues to burn in this never-ending inferno, the front office may have its toughest task in the offseason to try to free up cap space.

Currently, the Saints are roughly $71 million over the cap, per Spotrac.

That doesn’t include the contracts of Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams, who are set to become fiery-hot commodities in free agency.

Oh, and NOLA would probably like to re-sign Jameis Winston, too, who signed a one-year deal with a base value of $5.5 million last offseason. Winston also enters free agency as arguably the best quarterback on the market, and other teams who want to bid for him could drive his value out of New Orleans’ price range.

Over The Cap’s founder, Jason Fitzgerald presents the most depressing news by far. Per his calculations, even if the Saints cut everyone who would free up cap space, it would only create $30 to $35 million in available cap.

That’s less than half of what they need to create.

In 2022, New Orleans Saints will likely continue to burn in cap hell

No current Saints player’s contract will be left unturned this offseason, and we would expect plenty of restructured deals in the coming months.

Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas, and Ryan Ramczyk have the highest cap hits on the team, and even though NOLA extended Lattimore and Ramczyk not too long ago, the team will need to chip away at every dollar.

Last offseason, the Saints lost many elite players due to their salary cap restrictions, players NOLA could have desperately used on both sides of the ball. Trey Hendrickson and Emmanuel Sanders are two of the top names that come to mind who are nonetheless enjoying productive seasons on their new teams.

That could very well happen again in 2022 if contracts don’t get restructured, potentially causing New Orleans to lose the core of its roster.

Some believe a fresh start could be just what the Saints need — cut the dead weight, draft wisely, and forge a new identity.

ESPN’s Mike Triplett believes the 2021 Saints squad doesn’t need a total makeover, maybe just a facelift. Players in their prime like Demario Davis, Cam Jordan, and Alvin Kamara keep New Orleans competing at a high level, and the team needs only to patch up a few offensive areas to be a playoff contender in future seasons.

Still, NOLA exists in the no-man’s land of cap space, as they can’t just cut all their expensive players, and they can’t trade many players either since the Saints would lose just as much or even more cap space in dead cap. (An example: Michael Thomas’ cap hit is roughly $25 million dollars, but if he were to be traded before June 1st, the team would have to absorb a dead cap of roughly $23 million dollars.)

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