Jason La Canfora writes that the Saints are facing a massive salary cap deficit to make up in 2021 and league salary cap experts don’t see an easy way out.
The NFL Management Council currently projects the Saints as being $68 million over the 2021 cap. However, that number doesn’t take into account the expected drop due to revenue loss from the pandemic, which could put the cap as low as $175 million, leaving New Orleans $91 million in the red.
While there’s a chance the cap could be higher in 2021, the most optimistic projections have it inching up to just $185 million, meaning no matt what the Saints will need to clear tens of millions of dollars from the books.
“Man, I don’t know what they do after this,” one cap manager for another team told La Canfora. “This is about as bad as anything I have seen. They are really all-in with no wiggle room.”
La Canfora writes that cap experts around the league agree New Orleans will have to do something with QB Drew Brees‘ contract, saying it’s untenable to bring him back at his current 2021 number no matter what he decides with regards to his playing future.
Outside of that, though, there aren’t many other obvious candidates to trim for cap savings. Some experts believe the Saints will need to trade away some of their younger stars like DT Sheldon Rankins, CB Marshon Lattimore, DE Marcus Davenport or even RB Alvin Kamara or WR Michael Thomas.
The only other avenues available to the Saints to create cap space is restructuring more deals, which is what created the current hole they’re in and carries no shortage of risk per the experts.
“I mean this is a case where you might want to keep restructuring and pushing (cap charges) back because you have a good roster, but now that the cap is flat, or worse, the next few years, that can really end up just compounding the problems,” one told La Canfora.
“They have a lot of work to do in 2021.”