How the Saints Have Spent Their Money in Free Agency Since 2010

Despite the troubles and challenges that surround the salary cap almost every year, the Saints have always been able to spend some money in free agency.
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Last year, we did a very detailed breakdown of how the New Orleans Saints have spent their money in free agency for the past decade. We revisit that today to add in the spending from last season. No matter the circumstances, the Saints have always been able to compete in free agency. They've had a very mixed bag overall, but a lot of the moves over the past several seasons have made up for some of their big whiffs during the three straight 7-9 campaigns. Since we focused on the past 10 years of data before, we're taking into account that plus one. That means we're looking at 70 players and their contracts.

The Premise: This data consists of free agents only and not re-signings. That also means that contract extensions are not a part of this picture. While free agency is an actual ongoing thing, the focus and emphasis is about players brought in during the key stages of free agency between March and May. So, that means we don't include the many players brought in during OTAs and training camp that come and go. Finally, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, and the defensive backs are all grouped together.

Saints Spending By Year

A lot of emphasis is put on the team's stellar run of good luck after signing an extremely talented draft class in 2017. Over the past four seasons, New Orleans has averaged spending $70.33 million yearly ($281,340,000 total). In case you were wondering, the total amount spent invested in the Sean Payton era since 2010 is $634,573,000.

  • 2020: $55.05 million
  • 2019: $74.92 million
  • 2018: $75.47 million
  • 2017: $75.90 million
  • 2016: $84.56 million
  • 2015: $36.87 million
  • 2014: $67.10 million
  • 2013: $33.90 million
  • 2012: $89.05 million
  • 2011: $33.30 million
  • 2010: $8.12 million

Saints spending by position

The Saints breakdown of how they've added players goes like this. There have been 14 more players added defensively (41) as opposed to the offense (27). The other two are kickers (2). Using 2010 as the baseline, total spending for the offense came in at $260,532,500 (44.95 percent), while the defense was at $354,065,500 (61.09 percent). This ratio is up over last season largely due to the Malcolm Jenkins contract (4 years, $32 million). Previously, it was a 41.46-55.09 percent between the offense and defense.

Here's how the spending by position looks with their calculated percentage relative to total investment since 2010, which is rounded up.

  1. Defensive Backs (16): $177.68 million, 30.7%
  2. Offensive Line (7): $99.08 million, 17.1%
  3. Linebackers (12): $95.03 million, 16.4%
  4. Defensive Line (13): $81.35 million, 14%
  5. Tight End (5): $58.45 million, 10.1%
  6. Running Backs (5): $54.44 million, 9.4%
  7. Wide Receivers (4): $37.09 million, 6.4%
  8. Fullbacks (3): $7.95 million, 1.4%
  9. Quarterbacks (3): $3.5 million, 0.6%
  10. Kickers (2): $1.98 million, 0.3%

Highest Contracts

Last offseason, Malcolm Jenkins became the first player the Saints threw over $30 million into a total contract since Larry Warford in 2017. Naturally, everyone knows about the Jairus Byrd experiment that backfired. In a very cap-strapped year, New Orleans still managed to shell out a big deal to land Byrd, making him the highest paid Saints free agent since 2006. You may be wondering who might have the largest number, and that can be easily be chalked up to Drew Brees from his original 6-year, $60 million deal from joining the Saints. 

  • Jairus Byrd: $56 million
  • Coby Fleener: $36 million
  • Ben Grubbs: $36 million
  • Larry Warford: $34 million
  • Malcolm Jenkins: $32 million
  • Nick Fairley: $28 million
  • Keenan Lewis: $25 million

If you tallied up the top 7 players from here, that would make up a total of $247 million, which would represent nearly 39 percent of their spending since 2010.

As New Orleans continues to work on their salary cap deficit ahead of the start of the league year next Wednesday, it shouldn't prohibit them from once again landing free agents to compete in 2021. Be sure to keep up with our tracker for all of the moves that have helped them get below the number.