The New Orleans Saints have created $4.8 million more in salary cap space by converting defensive end Cam Jordan’s $6 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, a source confirmed to The Advocate on Wednesday.
By converting Jordan’s bonus, the Saints spread the charge over the five seasons of the contract, meaning there’s now a $1.2 million cap hit in each of the five years of the $60 million extension Jordan signed last summer.
New Orleans has made a habit of converting bonuses to create room under the cap.
By spreading out the cap hit, Jordan’s contract should now carry cap figures of $11.5 million in 2017, $13.7 million in 2018, $13.5 million in 2019 and $11.1 million in 2020.
Now that Jordan’s move has happened, New Orleans has trimmed roughly $14.7 million off of its salary-cap number heading into the 2016 season. A flurry of moves last week — releasing Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber; the expected release of Brandon Browner; and restructuring Dannell Ellerbe’s contract — accounts for the other savings.
Jordan, who was made the face of the defense with his extension last summer, responded by playing 981 snaps — an astronomical number for a defensive lineman — and making 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss and 20 quarterback hits to earn his second Pro Bowl berth.
The Saints maintain that they intend to work something out to keep Drew Brees in New Orleans beyond next season.
Appearing on Sirius XM’s NFL Radio, general manager Mickey Loomis reiterated he intends to work out a deal with his quarterback this offseason.
“Drew Brees is going to be our quarterback this year and for the foreseeable future,” Loomis said. “We’ll get that worked out in a way that helps our team and fits in with what he wants to do.”
Loomis said he has not yet spoken with Brees’ agent, Tom Condon, about a potential extension but has had a few conversations with his quarterback. Brees believes he still has some good seasons left in him, and the organization feels the same way.
Brees is scheduled to have a $30 million cap charge next season, so lowering his cap number by extending his contract would benefit the Saints.
Loomis, however, said an extension wouldn’t simply be about creating spending money.
“Look, that’s not as much for cap as it is for we want Drew to be our quarterback this year, next year, and the foreseeable future,” Loomis said.
The Saints will eventually have to make a decision on what to do about Marques Colston’s future. The veteran wide receiver has been a steady presence for the Saints over the past 10 seasons, but coming off a season in which he caught 45 passes for 520 yards, both sides are likely going to have to evaluate what happens next.
Colston will have to decide if he wants to continue playing, and New Orleans must determine if he’s worth the $5.9 million cap charge. It’s also possible both sides work something out to lower Colston’s cap charge so he can return, which is what happened last offseason.
But while Colston is no longer the player he was a few years ago, that doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t appreciate what he’s meant to this team.
“Marques has meant so much to our franchise the last 10 years,” Loomis said. “Just steady, great leadership, he’s just been fantastic.”
But when the time comes to move on from Colston, Loomis believes the Saints already have his replacement on the roster.
“Brandon Coleman, who is a big guy out of Rutgers that has done some good things ... I think in many ways is the heir apparent to Marques,” Loomis said.
Coleman showed some flashes last season. While he finished with 30 receptions for 454 yards, he came on late in the season when filling in for Colston. In a Week 16 game gainst the Jacksonville Jaguars, he caught four passes for 45 yards and then followed it up by pulling in five passes for 81 yards during the season finale against Atlanta.