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Kristian Garic's Blog


 WWL Saints Sideline Reporter

 Kristian@wwl.com

 @Kristiangaric1
Posts from February 2013


Kristian: Brees is ''willing to consider'' restructuring contract
In the wake of Tom Brady restructuring his contract to save the New England Patriots salary cap space and remain competitive, Saints fans have been wondering if Drew Brees would be willing to do something similiar to help out the Black and Gold.

I asked Drew today, "Since word of Brady restructuring his deal to save the Pats cap room, fans have been asking if you might be willing to do something similar?"

Brees responded via text, "I am always willing to consider anything that will help the team or the cap situation."  

The Saints are cash-strapped trying to get under the $121 million salary cap on or before the new league year begins on March 12th.  

Brees signed a record-breaking 5 year $100 million contract in the summer of last year.  Brees' salary cap figure is $17.4 million for the 2013 season, and escalates rapidly in the following seasons.  In 2014 it rises to $18.4 million, and in 2015 it skyrockets to $26.4 million, then to $27.4 million in 2016.  

So, do I think he will do it?  Well, Brees has never been a selfish player, and is driven to win.  His legacy has been about winning and getting back to the Super Bowl, not necessarly about his money.  If he should restructure his deal, he would not be giving up anything now or in the long-term.  We'll find out what happens in the next two weeks.
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Kristian: Restructure Brees? Not so simple, and awfully risky
Should the Saints restructure Drew Brees' contract?  No.

With the help of our Saints Radio Statistician Brian Duvall, we explored the idea of restructuring Brees' deal to provide the Saints with some much needed salary cap relief.  Brees' cap figure for the 2013 season is $17.4 million, meaning that's how much of his pay the Saints have to include when calculating how much he counts against the approximately $120 million cap for NFL teams. 

The Saints are roughly 10 million dollars over cap.  The deadline to get under the salary cap is March 12th, the start of free agency and the new league year. 

The Saints are reportedly trying to restructure contracts for defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma.  While those moves would provide some relief, it's not going to fix the cap situation the Saints are in now.  On the surface it looks as though a restructure of Brees' contract would do wonders for the Saints. 

Not so fast! 

The Saints could convert $8.8 million of his $9.75 million base salary for 2013 to guaranteed pay out... making his 2013 salary at the 10 year plus veteran minimum of $940k. That move would drop the cap number by $6.6 million.  Pretty nice right?  Wait, there is a significant catch. 

The $8.8 million would then be spread out over the remaining 4 years of the contract, making his 2014 cap hit an eye popping $20.6 million.  In 2015 it would balloon to $28.6 million, and in the final year (2016) his cap figure would be $29.6 million.  Each year it grows by 2.2 million for a guaranteed pay out.  Under this scenario Brees would not lose any money, but it could increase the chances of him getting... yes ... released... gasp!  See where I am going here?  The Saints are pretty much stuck with that record breaking deal of a year ago.

The salary cap is not expected to expand robustly until 2015, when new TV contracts kick in from the new CBA.   If the Saints restructured Brees' deal as proposed in this scenario, he would account for 30% of cap space for the next 2 years.  OUCH!  That is if they restructure his 2013 base salary.  Furthermore, if the Saints restructure Brees' 2013 base salary, and convert it to guaranteed payment, it would very likely increase the chance Brees would NOT finish his career in a Saints uniform. Ultimately this would alter the course of the Saints for the next four years. 

So the question now becomes: Get rid of Smith and Vilma if they don't restructure?

Yes. 

Safety Roman Harper carries a hefty price tag at $7.1 million for 2013.  The high profile veteran is likely on his way out the door without restructuring the Brees contract.  It's either that or you say good-bye to Brees in 2 years when he's 36 and has a cap hit of 28.6 million in 2015. 

You see? 

The Saints pretty much have no choice but to absorb the 17.4 million price tag for Brees.  It doesn't look like a restructure is likely. 

What's the Saints best move at this point? 

Don't even touch the Brees contract.  I'm not the numbers guy that Mickey Loomis is, I'm not trained in that field, but I'm sure he'll find a way to make it work. 

However, from this radio guys chair it doesn't look like the Saints can get relief from a reworked Brees deal. 

I would like to again thank Brian Duvall (Saints Radio Statistician) for contributing to this report.
 


 
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Saints cut Thomas and Patrick
The Saints continue to make some roster moves, today parting ways with tight end David Thomas and defensive back Johnny Patrick.  

Thomas, a seven year NFL veteran, joined the Saints in training camp of the 2009 season via a trade with the New England Patriots.  

Click here to see Thomas' stats...

The Saints drafted Patrick in the third round out of Louisville in 2011.  

Click here for Patrick's stats...

The Saints are maneuvering to get under the 2013 salary cap of 121 million by March 12th.  
 
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Salary cap maneuvering: Big decisions for Vilma, Smith, Brees and Evans
It wasn’t a big surprise when we learned today that the Saints have asked LB Jon Vilma and DE Will Smith to restructure their contracts to help make room in the team’s salary cap. 
 
However, here’s a common misconception by some fans:   A players’ full salary is not the same total amount that counts against the salary cap.  For instance, Drew Brees will make $20 million this year, but the NFL salary cap formula shows that $17.4 million of that amount is what counts toward the cap. 
 
Will’s Smith’s cap # is not far behind:  $14.5 million.  Jon Vilma’s number is $8.68 million, and Jahri Evans’ cap # is $9.86 million. 
 
Players who agree to a restructuring don’t necessarily stand to lose money in the deal.  Take for instance Curtis Lofton, where he agreed to take a roster bonus and instead make it a “signing bonus” that would not count against the cap.  It’s almost like shuffling cash around in the “real world” to avoid taxes. 
 
Some fans have grumbled on social media that Drew Brees should also consider restructuring his deal to give the Saints some breathing room.  Drew almost certainly would not be taking a pay cut if he agreed to a restructuring.   
 
On the other hand, a restructuring for Vilma and Smith, on the back-end of their careers, will absolutely mean the two will agree to less money overall.  So, they have to choose between taking less cash for the guarantee of being with a contending team for at least one more season…or walking away without anything, and hoping to get picked up by another franchise.   
 
The clock is ticking.  The new league year starts March 12, and that is the date of the start of free agency...So, that's effectively the deadline for a decision to be made about restructured contracts. 
 
Will they stay or go?  I wouldn’t be surprised either way.  Of the two, my educated guess is that Smith is the more likely candidate of the two to stay.   At 31, Vilma has lost a step, and he’s said in the past that he’s not fond of the 3-4.  On the other hand, although Smith turns 32 this year, he would play a different role in this 3-4 scheme, and could be worked into the new defense a lot easier than Vilma. 
 
 (5) Comments




 
Lofton's contract first target to free Saints salary cap space
Ahead of the start of NFL free agency on March 12th the Saints have started the process to get under the 2013 salary cap.

The team has restructured the contract of middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.

The Saints saved $4 million dollars of cap space by diverting a roster bonus into a signing bonus.  Lofton’s cap figure went from 7. 1 million in 2013 to 3.1 million with the new structure.   

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and company still have a lot of work to do.

The Saints are projected to be some 15 to 17 million dollars over the 2013 cap.

Loomis is very good, however, at finding money where it doesn't seem to be obvious.  
 
 (2) Comments




 
Kristian: Ryan a solid pick, if he gets the talent he needs
We didn't have to wait long to find out the next defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.  It's former Dallas D.C Rob Ryan, twin brother of New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan and offspring of defensive mastermind Buddy Ryan.  

The hire came pretty quickly after Ryan interviewed with Sean Payton and company yesterday.  The Saints loved his pressure based 3-4 scheme, and aggressive style.  "He comes from a great football family, and if he has the talent here in New Orleans I think he can be pretty successful," says Saints color analyst Hokie Gajan.  

Ryan has been a Defensive Coordinator in the NFL since 2004.  He's brash, and a bit flamboyant, but has the swagger and confidence needed to inject some "nasty" into the Saints defense that was historically bad last season.  "I think Coach Payton obviously thinks Ryan is the best fit and the best guy to come in and work with the players currently on the roster," says Deke Bellavia.  
 
Last season in Dallas, Ryan dealt with an inordinate amount of injuries to several key players on his defense.  Jerry Jones fired Ryan after the season in Dallas.  Current Saints DB Jabari Greer told me, "I'm excited to get to work with our new defensive coordinator.  We have a lot of work to do, but we also have the men with the desire to get it done."  When the search started, Ryan's name wasn't at the top of my list.  However, it's a matter of trusting Sean Payton and company that this is the right decision.

Initially I questioned the possibility of Ryan landing in New Orleans, but after talking to several folks around the league, I have warmed up to the idea.  Ryan is extremely respected as a defensive mind in the NFL.  If the Saints acquire the talent for Ryan, he'll prove to be a solid pick up. 
 (5) Comments




 
Kristian: Crennel likely not the guy for Saints DC job
kristian@wwl.com - I can give you 6.5 million reasons why Romeo Crennel will likely not be the next defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.  That’s the amount of money it would cost him to take the job with New Orleans.  Crennel is still being paid on a 3 year deal he signed with Kansas City in 2012.  The Chiefs fired Crennel after one season, but are still on the hook for that money.  Sure, Crennel can forgo the money, but at 65 would that be a smart move?  And, would it be the long term answer for Sean Payton?
 
Here are a couple of names to keep a close watch on, and a couple of things to consider.  Why haven't we had an announcement from the Saints on a new DC?   Maybe they’re eyeing a defensive coach of one of the Super Bowl teams.  Like Who?  How about 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell?  That's a solid fit.  This week on media day Donatell said he would like to become a coordinator in the NFL again, after previous stints in the same role with the Packers and Eagles.  Also, watch Pittsburgh secondary coach Keith Butler, who spent nine previous seasons as the team’s linebackers coach.  League insiders tell me Butler would be interested, and would be allowed to interview with the Saints if presented the opportunity.

I think the leader in the clubhouse is Donatell.  I would expect an announcement by the middle of next week after the Super Bowl.

Who Dat!
 (6) Comments




 
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