MOBILE, Ala. – General Manager Mickey Loomis admitted this will be a “disheartening” off-season for the New Orleans Saints, who will likely have to replace Drew Brees at the quarterback, and could be nearly $ 100 million over the salary cap.
But Loomis made it clear that after winning the last four NFC South titles, the Saints won’t go into rebuild mode.
“Look, we have a great squad. And I can’t foresee a circumstance where we’re not going to say, ‘Man, we’re going to do whatever we can to win – win now and fight for a championship,” Loomis said during a video conference with the media while attending the Senior Bowl.
He did not go into many details and said that there are still “more strangers than acquaintances” at this point on the calendar, including:
No official word yet on whether Brees will actually retire as he takes time to decompress with his family after his 20th season.
No official word on how low the wage cap will go after lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. The cap could drop to $ 175 million per team after it was $ 198.2 million in 2020, although it could be higher.
The Saints have not yet completed their internal player ratings.
So it’s too early to say whether the Saints will try to re-sign pending free agents like quarterback Jameis Winston, security Marcus Williams, the defensive end Trey Hendrickson, the defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, and the tight end Jared Cook – or if they could enter the market for a high-priced QB like Matthew Stafford or others that are commercially available.
“The whole evaluation and what happens to it remains to be seen,” said Loomis. “We like [quarterback Taysom Hill]. We like jameis. We liked what they did for us. But just like in any position, we’ll be discussing a lot over the next week or two. “
According to ESPN’s Roster Management System, the Saints are currently projected to have $ 207.8 million in wage caps in 2021 with only 43 salaries on the list. However, you could save at least $ 13.5 million in cap space – and potentially more – when Brees retires. And they have been one of the most aggressive teams in the NFL for years when it comes to driving cap costs into the upcoming seasons. So you could keep doing this if you wanted to keep as much of the current list intact as possible.
For years it seemed like the Saints would “catch up” with the salary cap and perhaps go into rebuild mode when Brees retired. But then in 2016 and 2017 they reloaded a championship-caliber squad around them with great draft classes that included stars like receiver Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk, Williams, Hendrickson and Rankins belonged.
A major decision for the Saints is whether to extend free agents like Lattimore, Hill and offensive attacks against Ramczyk and Terron Armstead through 2022. Another would be whether they would consider doing blockbuster trades to free up cap space and add draft picks, as they have done in the past with stars Jimmy Graham and Brandin Cooks.
“Look, it sure’ll be a challenge,” Loomis said of the salary cap. “And yet I don’t want to speculate on how challenging it will be until we have a better understanding of what will be available – not just for this year but for the year after as well. So I can’t really answer that question except to say, yes, it will be daunting. I think it will be daunting for the majority of the teams in our league. “