Salary cap report doesn't change Saints' plans

The SportsXchange

INDIANAPOLIS -- A report Thursday that the 2014 NFL salary cap will be several million dollars more than an estimated figure of about $126 million will not do much to change the New Orleans Saints' planning.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said at the NFL Scouting Combine workouts that he does not know if the cap will approach the $130 million figure ESPN reported a day earlier.

But if there is any extra money to work with, it still will not be enough for the Saints, whose top priority this offseason is signing All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a new deal.

They were well over the projected salary cap before terminating on Feb. 12 the contracts of three veterans -- defensive end Will Smith, strong safety Roman Harper and cornerback Jabari Greer -- and were still at about $125 million on Friday.

More money or not, Loomis confirmed the trimming is not finished. He said at the Senior Bowl in late January that the Saints will give Graham the franchise tag if he and the club cannot agree to a new deal by March 3 -- the deadline for using the tag.

"I haven't heard anything about a change in the projected salary cap," Loomis said. "We have an expectation of what the number is going to be, (and) there's been nothing to change that expectation other than all of a sudden there's this report."

Loomis said he did not know where the report came from.

When asked if he anticipated cutting more veterans, Loomis said there are three ways to free up cap space: restructuring deals, making trades or terminating players under contract.

"We've got some work to do," he said. "What form that takes remains to be seen."

To make things worse for the Saints, Graham is expected to file a grievance if he is tagged by the team. Graham contends he lined up most of the time last season at wide receiver, which likely will carry a tag of about $5 million more than a tight end.

Loomis was adamant during a news conference with Louisiana reporters at the Senior Bowl that the 6-foot-7, 265-pound Graham was drafted as a tight end in 2010 and is still a tight end.

Loomis on Friday declined to comment on the negotiations with Graham.
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