Salary cap makes Saints non-shopper in FA market

Would the Saints be better off if they didn’t win the NFC South?
Regardless of what happens in the worst division in football, few teams in the NFL are more in need of an infusion of young talent.
And, the Saints haven’t had a Top 10 pick since defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis was chosen No. 7 in the 2008 draft.
As the Saints head to 2015, they could be anywhere from $15 to $20 million over the cap.

Several veterans could be casualties.

In 2015, the Saints’ two starting guards, Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, will eat $20.6 million of cap space.

The Saints have other high cap numbers, including outside linebacker Junior Galette ($15.4 million), wide receiver Marques Colston ($9.7 million), defensive tackle Broderick Bunkley ($6.1 million) and linebacker David Hawthorne ($6 million).

Drew Brees’ cap number is a whopping $26.4 million. Will he restructure his deal to give the Saints more cap space?

With the Saints’ top 51 players eating up more than $160 million in cap space – and the cap projected to be somewhere in the $140 million range – the Saints will not be big players in free agency.

A draft with an emphasis on playmakers is the infusion the Saints need. In one year, the Saints have gone from fourth in total defense to near the bottom of the league.

On offense, through 13 games, the Saints had 39 pass plays of 20 yards or more. In 2013, the Saints had 67.

And, the return game has been anemic at best.

In the meantime, the notion is being floated that the Saints have a talented roster that is beset by internal issues.

Lack of maturity and professionalism are suddenly the causes of the Saints precipitous dip in their won-loss record. That notion makes for good copy.

Galette’s comments critical of former Saints Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith were ill advised at best. Galette made headlines nationally when he said that Curtis Lofton “was putting up better numbers” than Vilma, and that Smith had never been “a better player than me.”

Galette made those comments days before Carolina routed the Saints 41-10 at home.

In 2008, the Saints sputtered to an 8-8 mark.

But, they signed safety Darren Sharper and cornerback Jabari Greer in unrestricted free agency and drafted Malcolm Jenkins in the first round.

One year later, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams got tons of credit as the Saints won the Super Bowl. Williams is a good football coach, but he also benefitted from a huge roster upgrade on defense, which is what the Saints need now.

Drafting higher would certainly increase their chances of doing just that. The 2015 draft will be top-heavy with quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State.

So, a pick near the Top 10 would likely net the Saints what they desperately need: young impact players who don’t break the bank.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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