Mike Triplett of ESPN.com takes a look at the Saints situation as they prepare to enter the offseason. Here are some of the notes included in his breakdown.
According to Triplett, TE Jimmy Graham will be back “at any cost.” There is a chance that a long-term deal could require some time as the Saints “will be breaking new ground on this deal.“
Unrestricted Free Agents
Triplett believes the Saints would be interested in re-signing unrestricted free agents: RT Zach Strief, C Brian de la Puente, S Malcolm Jenkins, OLB Parys Haralson, WR Robert Meachem, and K Shayne Graham “at the right price.”
As we’ve mentioned before, the Saints are in a tough financial situation given that they are projected to be over the cap by $17 million or so. Even shedding obvious contracts like DE Will Smith won’t be enough to re-sign/franchise TE Jimmy Graham and then lock up these guys to market-value contracts.
Meachem and Graham should cost very little, so I could see them returning, but Strief, de la Puente, Jenkins and Haralson could easily price themselves out of New Orleans.
Potential Roster Cuts
To me, releasing Will Smith is a no-brainer. Freeing up $11.55 million in cap space is hard to pass up, especially when we’re talking about a guy who will be 33 next year and didn’t play a snap in 2013.
It won’t be easy to part with Greer and Harper, but they could free up another $5 million or so in cap space by doing so. Rob Ryan did a phenomenal job this year, despite being undermanned at a number of positions. It would probably better for them in the long-run to get young in the secondary.
Moore is a good player, but the Saints have done such a great job of developing receivers that they probably should consider taking the cap space here.
I can’t see them parting with Pierre Thomas given that he has been their best running back for a number of years. Mark Ingram could be on the chopping block, although he is younger than Thomas and started to come on at the end of the season.
We have Graham, Strief and de la Puente all included in our Top 100 Free Agents list.