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Offseason Rebuild – New Orleans Saints

So with these I’m going to pick teams at random from a list, and then go over their off season, what I would do, moves I might make. It’s important to point out that this is purely speculation. I’m sure some of these will ruffle a few feathers. But here it is. Starting with the New Orleans Saints

Split into three parts we will go like this. Roster Management, Free Agency, NFL Draft.

Roster Management

Before we get started, the cap limit for 2020 was $198 million dollars. Which was a $10 million dollar increase from the previous season, to allow teams some breathing space with COVID a factor.

The problem is, that that is now going to reduce again before the 2021 season starts. Over the Cap has the number for 2021 estimated at $176 million dollars, which would be a $22 million decrease. So that’s the number we’re going to work towards. Because it’s the most realistic. And with that number, the Saints need to reduce their cap situation by around $120 million dollars… blimey.

Currently around $100 million dollars over the cap, the Saints have their work cut out in order to be in compliance with the cap ruling before the first day of the new season. So this team is certainly going to be one of the most interesting to watch in this off season, and this article is sure to throw up some conversation too, as we move through it.

Let me pre warn you. Nobody needs to do more this off season than the Saints. The team will look quite different in 2021. There’s a lot here to uncover!

Restructures

Unfortunately for the Saints, it’s not as simple as Drew Brees retiring = all of his contract value negated from the teams cap. Instead, Brees retirement will mean there’s $22,650,000 in dead cap on the books for 2021. But that does save them around $14,000,000. Good start. Brees may be able to rejiggle something here to support the franchise. But i’m not 100% sure on that, or how it would work.

There’s going to be a tonne of contract restructuring going on for the Saints. If they restructure Michael Thomas, they could save up to another $8,000,000 dollars. It doesn’t make sense to trade him, as the cap saving will be less. In fact, by trading him, they don’t actually save anything at all in 2021, rather accumulating $20,000,000 in dead cap. Counter productive.

Another $6,000,000 million by doing the same with guard Andrus Peat. Which was an odd contract to agree in the first place I feel.

Vet defensive end Cameron Jordan is also a mega contract that will need to be amended, and this one could save the Saints a further $9,000,000 dollars.

Whilst on the subject of linebackers, Demario Davis could also do with restructuring, which could save the Saints a further $4,000,000 or so.

Two more I would look to restructure are those of vet safety Malcolm Jenkins, who’s a good leader and a valuable asset to a defence that is losing some pieces. As well as defensive tackle David Onyemata. Between the two, the Saints could save a further $7,000,000.

They then really need to do something with Taysom Hill’s contract, as he will be costing them $16,000,000 in 2021. That makes zero sense unless you plan on him being your starting quarterback for the season, which in this scenario, I’m assuming is not the case. Some sort of restructure/extension, spreading the money out, makes sense, and could save the Saints $8,000,000 in 2021.

The Saints could then save a further $6,000,000 or so by renegotiating a new deal with tight end Jared Cook. Cook was great for the Saints in 2020, so this makes sense to keep him on, and make a saving in the process.

Then let’s say other minor restructures and moves with the rest of the roster save them another $5,000,000. We’re talking the minor moves at the bottom end of the 51 men.

So to summarise at this stage:

  • Michael Thomas: +$8,000,000
  • Andrus Peat: + $6,000,000
  • Cameron Jordan: + $9,000,000
  • Demario Davis: + $4,000,000
  • Malcom Jenkins: +$4,000,000
  • David Onyemata: + $3,000,000
  • Taysom Hill: +$8,000,000
  • Jared Cook: +$6,000,000
  • Rest of Roster: +$5,000,000
  • Drew Brees retiring: +14,000,000

Cap saving – $67,000,000

Cap position – Still in a minus of around $53,000,000 with the likely cap for the 2021 season being around $176,000,000

Roster Cuts

So at this point, with those contracts corrected, and Drew Brees retiring. We’re left $53,000,000 in the hole. That’s if you save the maximum amount possible on each contract negotiation. Still needing to clear that down, here we go:

There’s two very easy cuts here…

Janoris Jenkins will need to go. He’s a veteran corner now which is a position they can address in the draft. His contract doesn’t warrant the Saints keeping him around, especially considering the circumstances they’re in. He’d be one of the first on my list to move on. Trading him would save them around $8,000,000, and cutting him would save $7,000,000. I’d expect the Saints to look for a late pick, and if no suitable partner is found, he’ll be cut.

Janoris Jenkins will be on a new team next season… they’re not able to keep him. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kwon Alexander is set to make $13,000,000 dollars for the next two seasons, so cut him immediately and without second thought. Absolutely not. Get rid of that contract.

Both of these guys. Easy cuts.

Emmanuel Sanders will likely also be cut, post June 1st, as waiting until then will save the Saints another $6,000,000. If they cut him before the June 1st date, they’ll only save $4,000,000.

I’d imagine with other cuts they can likely save themselves around $5,000,000 more. So let’s add that on too. Depth guys will be let go and replaced with rookies etc.

Summary at this stage:

  • Janoris Jenkins: Cut = +$7,000,000
  • Kwon Alexander: Cut = + $13,000,000
  • Emmanuel Sanders: Cut = +$6,000,000
  • Other cuts: +$5,000,000

This leaves the Saints now at -$22,000,000 left to clear.

Trades

Close your eyes Saints fans you won’t enjoy this bit.

While we already restructured Andrus Peat on the offensive line, the Saints also have two very heavy contracts at right and left tackle. Left tackle Terron Armstead set to make $16,000,000 in 2021, and right tackle Ryan Ramcyzk due $11,000,000 of his own.

Quite simply, the Saints can’t afford to keep them both. So I believe Ryan Ramcyzk will be on the trading block, and the Saints should be able to get themselves a good return for him, or a semi decent return. I’d say a second round pick is fair, considering the fact that he only has a year left on his contract and will likely need to be traded and then paid by his new team. This saves the Saints $11,000,000 and unfortunately is a move they’re going to need to make.

And then, brace yourselves. Marshon Lattimore is also on my list to be traded. Look Lattimore is a great corner, but 2021 is the last year of his deal, and he probably had his least productive year. So the Saints need to cut ties, get back what they can, and rebuild the secondary. Again this saves them over $10,000,000. To me it just makes sense, and again, other teams will be clambering to get him from them. I’d say a late first round pick is very possible here.

And finally I’d have them trading somebody else across the defensive line. Perhaps Malcolm Brown makes the most sense, they might pick up a semi decent pick in return, and the saving would be around $5,000,000.

Summary:

  • Ryan Ramcyzk traded: +$11,000,000
  • Marshom Lattimore traded: +$10,000,000
  • Malcom Brown traded: +$5,000,000

Finally, and only just, the Saints will be within the cap limit, by $5,000,000. But they still haven’t resigned any of their own free agents.

Resignings

The main thing here for the Saints is holding onto young talented safety Marcus Williams however they can. Other notable names like PJ Williams, DJ Swearinger etc you can allow to leave. But you need to keep Marcus Williams if you can. He’s a good asset for the Saints and allowing him to walk would be a tough blow to take.

You need to offer him a heavy bonus, make sure he doesn’t add a big hit back onto the cap, and bring him back.

Then, the second issue, is technically the only quarterback you now have is Taysom Hill. So you need to pay somebody as a capable back up, at least, that’s the way you sell it to keep the contract cheap. Ideally, Jameis Winston is the guy as he’s already incorporated into the team, has a year with the Saints under his belt. The problem there is what happens if another team offers him money you simply can’t compete with… Let’s pretend that doesn’t happen for now. You pay to keep Jameis and tell him he’s the back up. You have to, because Taysom Hill is SOMEHOW making $16,000,000.

A brief summar here, but still a summay. Notable resignings:

  • Marcus Williams. Safety.
  • Jameis Winston. Quarterback.

Free Agency

So all of that finally brings us to free agency. Which for the Saints, is going to be a very quiet time. Based on the fact that they barely make it back to within the cap, they can’t then go and sign free agents. That’s just the reality of it. So there won’t be a trade for Matt Stafford unless they’re able to pull off a miracle. Nor any other QB signing. They will need to stick with the QBs they have in the building.

Draft

Okay so based on trades for Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramcyzk, the Saints acquire another first round pick for their star corner, and a second for Ramcyzk the tackle. I’ll go through the first three rounds of pick senarios. This post is already pretty long…

*Disclaimer. All picks are made based on what is currently available on TheDraftNetworks mock draft simulator*

Round 1 Pick 25 (Trade with Jacksonville for Marshon Lattimore)

Asante Samuel Jr. Cornerback FSU

Great man coverage corner, and the long term replacement for Lattimore. Simple business here. Lattimore and Janoris Jenkins both leave in the off season, it will need addressing urgently.

Round 1 Pick 28

Zaven Collins. LB Tulsa

Zaven Collins

Versatile, great IQ. Fills a void left by cutting Kwon Alexander, and not resigning Alex Anzalone, who’s been a solid player for the Saints at the position. Collins fills the void.

Round 2 Pick 51 (Trade with Washington for Ryan Ramcyzk)

Teven Jenkins. OT Oklahoma State

A simple fit here using the pick traded away to once again address a need and grab a tackle they can develop in what might be a half rebuilding year for the Saints. Jenkins can play both tackles and guard too. Good experience as a senior.

Round 2 Pick 60

Hamilcar Rashed Jr. EDGE Oregon State

Edge rush is something the Saints will also need to address, and Rashed Jr. has good athleticism, he’s explosive, and has a high ceiling. A good fit for the Saints here.

Round 3 Pick 96

Sage Surratt. WR Wake Forest

Surratt is an impressive talent and a nice pick up towards the back end of the third round. Record setting statistics at Wake Forest. Not the fastest athlete, but he’s a big body capable of going upstairs.

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