At a time when so many in the media think that cap space easily can be conjured without consequence by dropping base salaries to the minimum and spreading the balance of a player’s 2013 compensation over the life of the deal, the Saints are showing a keen awareness of the issues that can arise from kicking the salary-cap can down the road.
The Saints have restructured four deals today. In addition to receiver Marques Colston (whose deal keeps his 2013 base salary at $1.7 million), Larry Holder of the New Orleans Times Picayune reports that the Saints have restructured the contracts previously signed by linebacker David Hawthorne, guard Ben Grubbs, and guard Jahri Evans.
Each player is due to make more than the minimum salary for his level of experience in 2013.
By carrying more cap costs now for these players, the Saints won’t find themselves in an even bigger jam later -- especially when quarterback Drew Brees’ contract spikes to a jaw-dropping cap number of $26.4 million in 2015.
As we explained last week, those cap numbers make Brees a bad candidate for a full-blown restructuring. If the Saints were to reduce Brees’ base salary to the 10-plus-year minimum in 2013, his cap number in 2015 would climb to $28.6 million. In 2016, Brees would consume $29.6 million in cap space.
Thus, the Saints know that they’ll have even bigger cap challenges in the coming years, so they’re playing it smart with this year’s wave of restructurings.
Hopefully, this will prove to the doubters that, at a time when the cap is growing at best by two percent annually, pushing cap space into future years eventually will make it impossible to field a competitive team.