Saints Top 5 Potential Salary Cap Moves
The New Orleans Saints will look this offseason to retool a team that has gone 37-11 over the last three seasons. While the Saints will attempt to keep their talented core intact, they must also fortify some key weaknesses exposed in a first-round playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints have drafted masterfully over the last few seasons but will also use free agency to target some key needs. They will also need the salary cap space to sign some of their own expiring contracts though. As of now, New Orleans has a reported $11.7 million in cap space available.
Most NFL teams create additional cap room by reworking some of their current player’s contracts. Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis has been a master of that over the years and will look to create magic once again. Some players throughout the league will also be released because of large contracts in order for teams to create cap space for new players. Here are a few New Orleans players who may face such a fate this offseason.
*Contract details provided by Spotrac.com
Kiko Alonso, Linebacker
Alonso was a key addition to the linebacking corps after a trade with the Miami Dolphins prior to the regular season opener. Alonso appeared in fourteen games and had 3 stops for loss among his 33 total tackles. The 29-Yr old played a bigger role in the team’s defense as the season progressed before suffering a knee injury during the playoff loss to Minnesota that puts the start of his 2020 season in doubt.
Alonso’s current contract does not expire until after next season, and New Orleans has expressed a desire in keeping him on the team. He is scheduled to receive a $1.425 million dollar roster bonus and will count $8.675 million against the Saints salary cap in 2020. New Orleans is likely to try to rework Alonso’s current deal or perhaps look to move him this offseason. Releasing or trading Alonso before June 1 would save the Saints $7.825 million in cap space for 2020.
Nick Easton, Offensive Guard
New Orleans signed Easton to a 4-Yr contract away from the Minnesota Vikings last offseason. The hope was that the 27-Yr old lineman would replace the retired Max Unger as the team’s starting center, but he was beaten out by 2nd round draft pick Erik McCoy. Easton was inactive for six of the Saints’ first ten games but would replace the injured Andrus Peat at left guard down the stretch of the year. Easton played well in the six games he started for Peat, and the New Orleans offense barely missed a beat.
Peat is an unrestricted free agent that the team is unlikely to re-sign and Easton is the favorite to replace him along the offensive line. His cap hit will be over $5.3 million in 2020, but New Orleans could save nearly $4 million if they elect to part ways with the 6’3 303-Lb Easton. Though he played well in a limited role in 2019, the Saints may look to upgrade their interior offensive line this offseason after struggling at the spot in the playoffs.
Janoris Jenkins, Cornerback
Jenkins was picked up by New Orleans off waivers from the New York Giants in late December. He had 1 interception, 7 tackles, and 2 passes defended in two regular season games before shutting down Minnesota’s Stefon Diggs in the playoffs. The 31-Yr old Jenkins is one of the league’s best playmakers at cornerback. He has 8 defensive touchdowns in his eight year career and has snagged 23 interceptions, including five last season.
The Saints have several questions at cornerback, but Jenkins is a talented compliment to Pro Bowler Marshon Lattimore. He has one year remaining on his current contract but would count for over $11 million against the cap if the Saints keep him. Jenkins has expressed a desire to remain in New Orleans, and the Saints could try to work out a longterm deal. Even if they can’t they would likely keep Jenkins for the year, giving the Saints an elite duo at the position with he and Lattimore.
Patrick Robinson, Cornerback
No player under-performed his contract more than Robinson in 2019. The 32-Yr old cornerback was a defensive liability when he was in the lineup. He played in just 16% of the defensive snaps during the year and was consistently targeted by opposing offenses with success when he was on the field.
Robinson’s current deal expires after the 2022 season. He is due to receive a $1.25 million dollar roster bonus this offseason and will count for $6.15 million against the cap if the Saints retain him. Expect New Orleans to move on from the disappointing veteran before free agency begins. Doing so will cause $2.5 million in dead cap space but open up $3.65 million.
Larry Warford, Offensive Guard
Warford was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2019 after being a Pro Bowler his first two years with New Orleans. The 28-Yr old right guard experienced a slight drop-off in his play but is still one of the better guards in the league, especially as a run blocker. He played 91% of the offensive snaps and has been a vital part of the continuity for one of the NFL’s best offensive lines.
Warford is entering the final year of his Saints contract but will count over $12.8 million against the salary cap. Releasing him would open $8.5 million in cap space but would also create $4.4 million in dead cap. With questions at the other guard spot and holes to fill throughout the roster, expect New Orleans to approach Warford with a new deal to both relieve some of their salary cap issues and keep one of their top talents.