Saints have 4 players accounting for $5 million in dead money for 2023

There’s a lot of work to be done in getting the new Orleans Saints under the 2023 salary cap, but don’t blame players no longer on the roster. For once, the Saints don’t have many dead money commitments from past retirements and roster mistakes — just four players are on the books right now who won’t be playing for New Orleans in the fall. As things currently stand, they won’t have any dead money leftover at all in 2024. It’s the healthiest this area of the operation has been in years.

But it won’t last. While the Saints are forfeiting $5,038,479 right now in dead money (per Over The Cap), that number could increase five times over in just a few weeks should a couple of free agents sign with other teams. And any players designated as post-June 1 cuts will factor into the 2024 salary cap mathematics. Let’s break it down:

S Malcolm Jenkins: $3,950,000

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This is the money left over from Jenkins’ signing bonus after he retired last summer, which the Saints processed as a post-June 1 cut for added salary cap relief. The downside is they’re left with a $3.95 million penalty for what’s already been paid to Jenkins.

TE Nick Vannett: $532,500

AP Photo/Derick Hingle

Vannett signed a three-year deal with the Saints back in 2021, but they released him midway through the 2022 campaign and some of his initial earnings are left over as a dead money penalty in 2023.

QB Ian Book: $336,790

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Book was too slow to pick up the offense in his second training camp with the team, so the Saints waived him late last summer to save a roster spot for someone else. His rookie contract carried few guarantees as a former fourth-round draft pick, so this is all that’s left of his time in New Orleans.

DT Jordan Jackson: $132,516

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Jackson had even fewer guarantees written into his first NFL contract than Book as a sixth rounder, so the dead money remaining from his initial deal is minimal. He spent his rookie season on the Saints practice squad before opting for a fresh start with the Denver Broncos in January.

Pending dead money charges

Four players will leave dead money behind due to void years from contract restructures if they are not re-signed by the start of free agency on March 16:

  • DT David Onyemata: $10,192,555

  • DE Marcus Davenport: $7,626,941

  • DE Tanoh Kpassagnon: $1,992,000

  • WR Deonte Harty: $1,439,020

However, the Saints can negate those dead money charges by extending their contracts with these players. Onyemata and Kpassagnon feel like the likeliest to re-sign, given their established roles and importance to the defensive line, and there’s a possibility Davenport returns to New Orleans on a prove-it deal. That’s also true for Harty after an unfortunate injury cut him down in a contract year. But we may have to wait and see how much free agent interest they receive in March.

Additionally, these players are potential roster cuts with a post-June 1 designation. This would result in greater salary cap savings but it would still leave some dead money behind in both 2023 and 2024. Teams can only use this designation twice in advance, though:

  • WR Michael Thomas: leaves $11.9 million in dead money while saving $1.5 million in 2023; dead money charge of $14.1 million in 2024

  • QB Jameis Winston: leaves $2.8 million in dead money while saving $12.8 million in 2023; dead money charge of $8.4 million in 2024

  • LG Andrus Peat: leaves $6.5 million in dead money while saving $10.4 million in 2023; dead money charge of $11.8 million in 2024

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire