The New Orleans Saints are without a coach, and looking at their cap situation and roster, without much hope for 2022.
It’s over. Sean Payton stepping down merely made that a stark reality instead of a murky one.
On Tuesday afternoon, Payton decided to walk away from the New Orleans Saints after 16 years as their head coach. The 58-year-old won seven NFC South titles, reached three conference championship games and won Super Bowl XLIV, beating the favored Indianapolis Colts.
Now, with the roster falling apart and the cap number skyrocketing for a litany of players, the longest-tenured coach in team history is packing up. With Payton’s exit, it’s time for New Orleans to start blowing up its untenable situation.
For the better part of the last decade, general manager Mickey Loomis has consistently pushed back cap hits with restructures and extensions. The ideal scenario was to keep the title window open for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. But with Brees retiring after the 2020 season, New Orleans staggered through a crush of injuries to a 9-8 campaign in ’21.
And with Brees and Payton now both history, New Orleans has no choice but to face its long-awaited music.
Looking at Over The Cap, the Saints are an unfathomable $74 million above the threshold of $208.2 million. That’s almost twice as bad as any other franchise’s situation.
Furthermore, there aren’t a ton of easy moves for Loomis to make in an effort to cut salary. Looking at pre-June 1 numbers, the only obvious decisions are trading young edge rusher Marcus Davenport to save $8.5 million and releasing corner Bradley Roby ($9.5M), tight end Nick Vannett ($2.7M), defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon ($2.8M) and left tackle James Hurst ($2.4M). Assuming all that happens, Loomis remains $44 million above the cap.
And while there are a bevy of post-June 1 cuts and trades which can be made, the Saints have to be cap compliant by March 16, when the new league year begins. Expect a host of restructures (again), only furthering the problem. However, Loomis can’t commit long-term as this is going to be a multi-year teardown necessitated by his obsession with being all-in despite the storm ahead.
New Orleans had a 15-year run of excellence, constantly in the conversation for the Lombardi Trophy. Now, with the two pillars of that era in the past, the Saints have to focus on plowing through the painful years ahead.