Saints open up a little more salary cap space with two restructures

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ESPN’s Field Yates reported Saturday that the New Orleans Saints are working around the clock to maximize their resources, restructuring their contracts with cornerback Bradley Roby and defensive end Marcus Davenport. The two moves ultimately created more than $1.08 million in cap space for the 2021 season, which will be critical in filing daily roster moves like sending players to and promoting them from the practice squad. Things are tight, but not unmanageable.

But what are the long-term implications here? All this does is push some of the current-year money into future fiscal years, which can be moved around with further extensions or restructurings. In other words, both players’ 2022 salary cap hits have risen slightly, and the team could incur some dead money in 2023 if they don’t re-sign either Roby ($508,425) or Davenport ($812,541).

For Roby, his 2022 cap hit is now $10,169,475, which ranks 11th highest on the books. $9.5 million of that is tied up in his base salary, which the Saints can choose to restructure again in an extension or cut without penalty. And Davenport is going to play on his fifth-year option next year, valued at $9,553,000, 12th-highest — it’s unlikely that number stays the same. New Orleans has a history of either restructuring those fifth-year options to a smaller figure (as with Sheldon Rankins) or figuring out a long-term extension (as seen in Ryan Ramczyk and Marshon Lattimore).

So while the Saints are in the red by north of $54.4 million next year, they’ve got plenty of options to work around that. Ramczyk and Lattiomre signed contract extension ready-made for restructures, which can save a combined $32.82 million next summer. Additional restructures for franchise cornerstones like Cameron Jordan and Alvin Kamara saves another $16.4 million.

And then they’re another minor move or two away from cap compliance, allowing the Saints to work on extensions for free agents Terron Armstead, Marcus Williams, and so on. That sounds daunting now, but the salary cap is skyrocketing in 2023 with new media contracts flooding in. Creative structuring can keep this core together.

Still with me? The point of all this is that the Saints aren’t just shuffling debt around from one credit card to the next. They’re working with a plan, and they’ve got bigger goals in mind than maintaining cap compliance or building up unspent cap space. This team is talented enough to make some noise in the playoffs, and more smart cap management is going to keep them competitive for years to come.