Here's a simple reminder for critics, fans, and media analyzing the New Orleans Saints cap situation — Saints EVP/GM Mickey Loomis and his front office play chess, not checkers.
New Orleans broke a pattern and franchised emerging star safety Marcus Williams. Perhaps Payton and Loomis wanted to refrain from making the same mistake of 2014 when the team allowed Malcolm Jenkins to walk in free agency. The move is an expensive $10.5M tactic — for the moment.
Like in chess, at times, moves appear risky, but they are a step to gain an advantage over your opponent(s) and solidify your position.
Allowing Williams to test free agency would have been a setback for the Saints defense. Thus, causing New Orleans to locate his replacement in free agency or the draft. That's a crap-shoot in the long run.
What's next? More restructuring and difficult decisions are coming in New Orleans. While fans are applauding Loomis and his team's financial strategy, they may also disagree in the future moves to get under the $185M cap limit. Keep this in mind. This number is still fluid. NFL execs are still awaiting the final number from the NFL.
MORE CANDIDATES FOR RESTRUCTURING/REVISING?
Drew, Cam, and Demario helped to save the team millions in cap space. Take a look at the following candidates for restructuring or revising contracts and their projected cap number for 2021:
LT Terron Armstead ($16.2M), WR Michael Thomas ($18.8M), QB Taysom Hill ($16.15M), LG Andrus Peat ($11M), RT Ryan Ramczyk ($11M), RB Latavius Murray ($4.1M) and CB Marshon Lattimore all are core players for the Saints. Reworking deals with these players a plausible.
The following players' situations are sticky. CB Janoris Jenkins ($14.4M) is a valuable member of the defense. At the moment, New Orleans does not have another consistent performer at cornerback to pair opposite of Lattimore.
Jackrabbit will turn 33 in October. He serves his position well within Dennis Allen's scheme. Consider these factors. After Aaron Glenn's departure to the Lions, Kris Richard will bring a new dynamic as defensive backs coach. Will they mesh?
Additionally, will New Orleans decide to bring in a younger veteran or seek a player via the upcoming draft? Surtain, Horn, Campbell, Newsome, Stokes, or Samuel may be available in the first round. The expectation would be for the Saints to retain Jenkins with a new deal in place.
Emmanuel Sanders' ($10.5M) late-season production also offered New Orleans a glimpse of how he can complement Michael Thomas in the upcoming season. He carries a $10.5M cap hit and a dead cap value of $4,000,000 for 2021.
Here's where it gets sticky for Sanders. The emerging talents of Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Lil' Jordan Humphrey are cheaper options at receiver. Get this. Sanders turns 34 on March 17 - free agency opening date.
Follow the pattern. New Orleans keeps core players and expends fringe contributors for financial reasons. Mickey Loomis' "Loomisnomics," free agent, and personnel strategies may not make sense to most, but there's always goal in mind for the New Orleans Saints' franchise.