How the Saints have spent money in free agency in the past 10 years

A look back at how the Saints have shopped in free agency from the past 10 years.
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The New Orleans Saints have traditionally been players in NFL free agency, despite what their salary cap space has been. Needless to say, they have had an interesting track record. I looked back at the past 10 offseasons and combed through 61 player contracts to come up with some interesting data on how the Saints have spent nearly $580 million. 

For starters, this is information compiled related to free agents, not re-signings. Second, no contract extensions were considered. Lastly, this focuses on the majority of players brought in during the key stages of free agency, not interchangeable players brought in from early to late stages of training camp and OTAs. Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, and defensive backs are all grouped together.

Saints spending by year

Since 2016, the Saints have averaged spending nearly $78 million in free agency ($77,786,250 actual), totaling $311,145,000. In the past 10 years, their lowest spending spree was in 2010, a year that saw the NFL's salary cap uncapped but owners reportedly agreed in secret to limit spending due to several factors. 2012, coincidentally the season without Sean Payton, the Saints had their highest spending at $89,050,000. Here's the breakdown of how they've spent nearly $580 million in each season.

  • 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

New Orleans has added 15 more players on defense than offense during the past decade, with the final count being 22 offensive, 37 defensive, and 2 special teamers. Collectively, the Saints have added 12 defensive linemen, 11 linebackers, and 14 defensive backs since 2010. Total offensive expenditures came in at $240,290,000 (41.46 percent), while defensive tallies came in at $319,293,000 (55.09 percent).

  • Defensive Backs (14): $145 million
  • Offensive Line (6): $98.03 million
  • Linebackers (11): $93.99 million
  • Defensive Line (12): $80.31 million
  • Tight End (5): $58.45 million
  • Running Backs (4): $53.40 million
  • Wide Receivers (3): $21.10 million
  • Fullbacks (2): $6.91 million
  • Quarterbacks (2): $2.4 million
  • Kickers (2): $1.98 million
PositionPlayer CountTotal InvestmentPercentage

QB

2

$2,400,000

0.41%

RB

4

$53,400,000

9.21%

FB

2

$6,910,000

1.19%

WR

3

$21,095,000

3.64%

TE

5

$58,450,000

10.09%

OL

6

$98,035,000

16.92%

DL

12

$80,305,000

13.86%

LB

11

$93,985,000

16.22%

DB

14

$145,003,000

25.02%

K

2

$1,975,000

0.34%

Total Offense

22

$240,290,000

41.46%

Total Defense

37

$319,293,000

55.09%

Special Teams

2

$1,975,000

0.34%

Highest contracts given

This one seems pretty predictable, as Jairus Byrd takes the cake here. However, it's interesting to note that he's the only player in the last 10 years the Saints have thrown over $50 million at. Byrd also received the longest type of deal of anyone at six years, and only four other players (Keenan Lewis, Coby Fleener, Ben Grubbs, David Hawthorne) have received five-year deals from New Orleans. Here's a look at the highest totals the Saints have given out in free agency. One thing to note, only Larry Warford has made it to the final year of his deal. In these six players combined, it represents 37 percent of the total salary spending at $215 million.

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

Overall, the Saints have had a pretty good run in free agency since 2017. However, for every good signing, their have been the Champ Bailey's and Adrian Peterson's. There's also the category in itself that has those who never saw the field like Chris Chamberlain and Victor Butler, sprinkled in with plenty who didn't see long runs in their contracts like Brandon Browner, C.J. Spiller, Erik Lorig, Nick Fairley, and Coby Fleener. New Orleans has solidified themselves as a very promising and attractive destination, which can be somewhat attributed with the team's big three-year run of success. Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton are about to face their most important run in just under 10 days.