Kristian: With Graham wrapped up, what's next for Saints salary cap?
Prior to the Jimmy Graham contract, New Orleans had about $1.7 million in cap room. After the Graham contract, the Saints saved roughly $3 million in cap space with Graham's cap hit for this season sitting at roughly $4 million dollars. The Saints are clearly "in the now" with the cap. Next season, the new TV contracts kick in and the salary cap is expected to skyrocket, creating significant money for teams. The Saints don't have any top tier players scheduled to become free agents next offseason but could still be tight against the cap in 2015.
Drew Brees' cap figure is in excess of $23 million dollars and 2014 free agent signee Jairus Byrd accounts for $10 million dollars against the cap, along with Guard Jahri Evans carrying an $11 million dollar cap figure. General Manager Mickey Loomis has been like Houdini, finding cash to distribute to key players with the Saints scratching for salary cap space. Loomis has found a way to not only pay their own players, but bring in the likes of Byrd, Erik Lorig, Keenan Lewis, and Ben Grubbs.
What about next offseason? The Saints likely won't have a franchise tagged player, or contract dispute to deal with. 2015 might usher in a contract re-structuring for Drew Brees. The first three years of Brees' deal that he signed in 2012 were guaranteed. Brees has always said "I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win, and keep a championship roster intact."
Cameron Jordan might be the next player in line for a payday. In three seasons, Jordan has asserted himself as one of the top defensive ends in the league, with 12.5 sacks in 2013 and his first Pro Bowl appearance. Jordan will be on a club option 5th season in 2015. The Saints won't have to pay Jordan until 2016, but might be looking to avoid another drama-filled offseason and pay him a year early. If Brees restructures they might be able to do that next offseason.
Ot's hard to get a read on exact cap numbers for next season and predict the TV contract impact on the salary cap, but for now, the Saints will be in decent shape heading into next season. Count on Mickey Loomis for shrewd but necessary moves to keep the Saints sustainable and free to spend money in effort to compete for championships.