There is no doubt that the NFL is a business. Despite emotions of players, coaches, fans, and media year in and year out, every season is different with different rosters and different names.
The New Orleans Saints have largely epitomized that mantra this offseason as the team looks to not only compete but to overcome a dead-last ranking in cap space that hovered just shy of $60 million under the cap at the end of the 2022 season.
New Orleans General Manager Mickey Loomis and company have since put together a new roster combined with youth and restructured veteran contracts with the goal of making everything fit after the opening of free agency on March 15 and before the NFL Draft on April 27.
Filling the team’s needs while looking to cut expenses where they can, the front office has already allowed eight players to find better offers and have added 10 players at reduced rates with the exception of new signal caller Derek Carr – essentially trying to find their Ark of the Covenant.
Carr, a nine-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler, set numerous passing records during his time in Oakland and Las Vegas but was only able to make the playoffs twice. Even though his teams were not above average defensively, Carr’s overall record of 63-79 will continue to be talked about until he can prove otherwise under his new four-year $150 million contract that includes $100 million in total guarantees.
Following the signing of Carr, the Saints were able to restructure the contract of backup quarterback Jameis Winston while former starter Andy Dalton jumped ship for a better contract with the Carolina Panthers.
Outside of the quarterback position, New Orleans has been looking for younger and cheaper. With the departure of defensive tackles David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle for a total of $55 million between the two, the Saints were able to pick up Khalen Saunders and Nathan Shepherd – both of which are under 30 – for a combined $27 million.
The Saints didn’t stop there, letting Justin Evans leave for the Philadelphia Eagles for $1.59 million and replacing him with defensive back Lonnie Johnson of the Titans and safety Jonathan Abram of the Seahawks – both of which are under 27.
For the running back position, New Orleans needed to make a move with an imminent suspension and possible jail time of star Alvin Kamara looming and veteran Mark Ingram seemingly losing a step. So, that’s exactly what they did by signing Jamaal Williams to a three-year, $12 million deal. In 2022 with Detroit, the 27-year-old Williams led the NFL with 17 touchdowns.
Adding players in their 20s to replace veterans can sometimes be risky, but the Saints seem to be all-in on doing so with the hopes of both longevity as well as a return to the playoffs. New Orleans kicks off the 2023 regular season on Sept. 11 against the Atlanta Falcons.
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