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GMoney2600
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Oct 2005
11223 posts

4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
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The New Orleans Saints players gathered for their first mandatory minicamp this week, and the team used the occasion to restructure Marshon Lattimore’s contract and flip the savings into contracts with each of their rookie draft picks. So what is their salary cap outlook now?

It’s a fluid situation, but the Saints maxed out Lattimore’s restructure to create $7.4 million in cap space, lowering his cap hit to $2.84 million, just like they did last summer with Sheldon Rankins. While they’ll probably continue to explore a long-term deal with Lattimore, his volatility as an on-field talent combined with a recent off-field incident make it more likely he’ll play out this season and see where everyone stands next spring.

With their rookies on the books (and remember, only the highest-paid of the bunch qualify for the NFL’s top 51 rule), I’m estimating the Saints are cap compliant by just over $5.371 million. Not bad work by the New Orleans front office considering they were $356,000 or so from being in the red this time Tuesday morning.

With their rookies all accounted for and all of those resources burning a hole in their wallet, what’s next for the Saints? Here are four suggestions:

Re-sign Kwon Alexander
Alexander and the Saints both enjoyed their team-up midway through the 2020 season, with the linebacker adding a jolt of playmaking ability and rare athleticism to the middle of their defense. He was a natural schematic fit and meshed well with the locker room. The Saints have other options in Pete Werner and Zack Baun, but adding Alexander at the top makes for great depth.

And he’s recovering rapidly from offseason Achilles surgery, and appears to be on track to receive the green light for training camp. While it’s unlikely Alexander would agree to return for the veteran minimum, the Saints could come close with an incentives-laden contract offer. This should be a no-brainer.

Sign Dre Kirkpatrick
This move makes sense for all involved. Kirkpatrick would have an opportunity to start in New Orleans, which is rare at this point in the offseason, given his competition would be a third-round rookie in Paulson Adebo and a career backup in Patrick Robinson. And even if he doesn’t win the starting job, he’s a better fallback plan than Ken Crawley.

He’s not as big a name as, say, Richard Sherman, but Kirkpatrick is younger, healthier, and from a financial perspective, more realistic. He played on a $1.05 million veteran’s minimum last year with the Arizona Cardinals, and this season qualifies for a $1.075 million salary. That would help the Saints trigger the veteran minimum salary benefit, saving them a little more cap space.

Trade for Sterling Shepard
Now for a slightly bigger splash. Shepard was quickly buried on the New York Giants depth chart when Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney landed in town this spring, and Big Blue can save $7 million by trading him now that the calendar has inched past June 1. The Saints would have to tweak his contract to fit him on the books, but isn’t that always the case?

There are some free agent receivers out there like Golden Tate (who played behind Shepard with the Giants last year) and Dede Westbrook (who washed out of a not-good Jacksonville Jaguars receiving corps), but few candidates still available would upgrade what New Orleans already has. If the Saints can acquire Shepard for, say, a fifth round pick in 2022 (the same compensation they spent to nab Alexander last year), they should go for it. The 28-year old has averaged 4.8 receptions and 54.1 receiving yards per game in his career, beating both of those numbers in 2020.

They need someone behind Michael Thomas after moving on from Emmanuel Sanders. Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, and Marquez Callaway should benefit from the bigger-armed Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston taking over for Drew Brees, but none of them get open with consistency like Shepard. Sean Payton may say he likes the receivers New Orleans has already; we should just remember that he’s lied about that before.

Extend Ryan Ramczyk and Marcus Williams
These moves aren’t really necessitated by the Lattimore restructure, but hear me out. By handling their business with Lattimore first, the Saints now don’t have to negotiate deals with Ramczyk and Williams that are significantly friendlier to the team than the player, putting everyone on a more level playing field. Before, the players would have been working with greater leverage, because the Saints needed to cut new deals to lower their cap hits and free up resources just to sign their draft class. That isn’t the case anymore.

Of the pair, Williams feels more likely to get done sooner, because the Saints presumably already started talking with his agent before issuing the franchise tag. And the tag’s July 15 deadline to sign an extension puts a ticking clock on the table. Williams probably doesn’t want to play this year with an uncertain future, while the Saints would like to rework his $10.612 million cap hit under a new agreement. Maybe Ramczyk’s extension gets ironed out first, but a murky situation with Terron Armstead’s prospects raises questions for the NFL’s best set of bookend tackles.


Weekend Warrior79
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2014
7961 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
quote:

but Kirkpatrick is younger

Made me laugh, because while technically true he is only 1 year younger.

quote:

nd he’s recovering rapidly from offseason Achilles surgery, and appears to be on track to receive the green light for training camp.

Does that mean he would be able to start playing week 1, or is this just saying he's still on schedule. That would be an insane recovery from an Achilles


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21
oncealurker
New Orleans Saints Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Oct 2013
4082 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
Sterling Shepard for a 5th would be amazing. He’d be a great fit in our offense.


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221
Alatgr
LSU Fan
Mobeezy, Alabizzle
Member since Sep 2005
17348 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
It would be awesome to have Kwon back.


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130
DomincDecoco
USA Fan
Death by Snu Snu
Member since Oct 2018
5477 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
Meh
Yes
No
Absolutely


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010
geauxtigers87
New Orleans Pelicans Fan
Louisiana
Member since Mar 2011
22197 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
i'm not a fan of the saints giving up draft picks unless it's absolutely necessary, especially for a wr and not a lb or cb


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bonethug0180
New Orleans Saints Fan
Avondale
Member since Jul 2018
3820 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
The last one should have been done to create cap space, not now that we have it. If/when we do extend them it'll only create more space.


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jrobic4
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Aug 2011
1545 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
For a fifth, you're insane! Shepherd has already proven to be a good pro and a good locker room guy. Give him a decent quarterback and a true number one, and he gives you close to a thousand yards and 60 catches.


GMoney2600
LSU Fan
Baton Rouge
Member since Oct 2005
11223 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
quote:

For a fifth, you're insane!


I'd even give up a 4th, but I think that's where I'd draw the line


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10
Mpd31
Member since Nov 2019
1760 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
quote:

For a fifth, you're insane! Shepherd has already proven to be a good pro and a good locker room guy. Give him a decent quarterback and a true number one, and he gives you close to a thousand yards and 60 catches.


Shepard’s biggest problem is he can’t stay healthy. Still worth a 5th but has trouble staying on the field.


ned nederlander
Member since Dec 2012
288 posts
 Online 

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
Extending Ram to me is the one move left that has to happen this year. Get him extending and you basically have 4/5 starting OL locked in for next 3 years and have at least an option in house if 2021 is the last season for armstead


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10
Chalkywhite84
New Orleans Saints Fan
New orleans
Member since Dec 2016
11628 posts

re: 4 moves the Saints should make now that they have some cap space
You would have to pay him 7.4 and 7.4 mil

He is hurt too much for my liking.

Think he has had a couple concussions too.


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