Cap Hell Plagues Saints; Bucs Could StrikeFebruary 9th, 2014
If Lovie Smith has his way, then next year at this time the Bucs will be in a similar place as the New Orleans Saints are now. And that would be battling salary cap complications.
Joe found this NOLA.com story rather interesting reading.The Saints are $12 million in committed cash over the 2014 salary cap. They must slash players and payroll, and find a way to re-sign all-World tight end/receiver Jimmy Graham. Times-Picayune beat writer Larry Holder identified nine significant names for the Saints to consider.
The Saints will have a two-week period to use the franchise tag on Graham as the period opens Feb. 17 and closes March 3. If a long-term deal hits a snag, there’s no doubt the Saints will tag Graham as Loomis has said this offseason that will happen.
Then comes the debate of whether Graham is considered a tight end or a wide receiver. The Saints unwaveringly view Graham as a tight end, which a tight-end tag would cost around $6.8 million in 2014. Graham and his representatives will likely contend Graham should be paid like a wide receiver, which would cost around $11.6 million.
The Saints also have key potential free agents like safety Malcolm Jenkins, tackle Zach Strief and center Brian de la Puente they will ponder re-signing. To make any of this happen, the Saints will need trim to salary fat off their ledger and Payton alluded to as much Friday.
Some of the contracts the Saints could ponder trimming and cutting loose all together include, but aren’t limited to, veteran players like linebacker Will Smith ($13. 9 million cap number in 2014, $11.5 million in savings if released), safety Roman Harper ($5.87 million, $3.15 million), wide receiver Lance Moore ($5.07 million, $3.8 million), defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley ($6.1 million, $4.4 million), cornerback Jabari Greer ($6.8 million, $4.5 million) and running back Pierre Thomas ($2.9 million, $2.9 million).
The Bucs have no such problems.
They could re-sign all their free agents and still have a little freedom on the free agent market. However, that won’t happen. The Bucs don’t have in impressive list of free agents – Dekoda Watson and Erik Lorig appear to be the most worthy.
One guy to watch off the Saints is the center, Brian de la Puente. The three-year starter is durable, clearly can pass block, and he played at “Cal” under new Bucs offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. He came into the league undrafted and doesn’t have a lot of mileage on him at 28 years old, having made just 28 starts.
Joe suspects de la Puente would be a solid “value” free agent and free up Jeremy Zuttah to move to left guard and/or serve more of the ultimate-versatile-backup role he handles so well.