Recent veteran contracts show that the Saints are preparing for the end of an era

The New Orleans Saints have given out a couple of new contracts to veterans on the team, and it’s clear from the deals that the team is preparing for a new era.
Jacksonville Jaguars v New Orleans Saints
Jacksonville Jaguars v New Orleans Saints / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

In order to get under the salary cap, the New Orleans Saints had to do some contract magic with some of their highest-paid veterans. Guys like Cam Jordan, Derek Carr, Erik McCoy, and others, all had their contracts restructured. For other veterans, the Saints opted to sign them to new deals, accomplishing the same goal: a lower cap hit in 2024.

That’s the approach New Orleans took with linebacker Demario Davis, who signed a two-year deal worth $17.25 million, and safety Tyrann Mathieu, who signed a two-year deal worth $13 million. While these deals were obviously made to create cap space for the 2024 season, they also signal something else. The Saints are preparing for the official end of an era.

Saints will likely undergo massive changes in a couple of seasons

When Drew Brees retired and Sean Payton left, New Orleans refused to hit the reset button. Instead, the Saints did everything possible to cling to the past era, which was a successful period for the franchise. Unfortunately, holding on to this past hasn’t produced anything but three mediocre seasons and a perpetually bad cap situation. It has become clear that a day will arrive where the Saints must decide to move on from many of their core veterans.

New Orleans is seemingly setting up for this day with the structure of veteran contracts. Davis’ and Mathieu’s new deals set them up to be a free agents in 2026, and Cameron Jordan will also be a free agent in 2026, after signing a two-year extension back in August. The same goes for running back Alvin Kamara and offensive weapon Taysom Hill.

That's not a coincidence. The Saints likely set all these deals up this way so that they can move on to a new chapter in franchise history. That means these next two seasons will be critical for New Orleans, especially the 2024 season. The Saints will be trying to accomplish two things. The first is, obviously, winning. With so much money tied up in quality veterans, who are towards the end of their careers, the main focus is winning a Super Bowl.

The other thing that New Orleans needs to accomplish is building a young core of talented players. Establishing this core before all of these veterans move on is the only way to guarantee a smooth transition. The Saints will hope to have young players in position ready to take over so the team doesn’t have to undergo years where they struggle through a rebuild.

While the team searches for this young talent, it’ll be important to cherish the final years of the franchise’s key players.