5 New Orleans Saints Who Could Help Team Sign Drew Brees
Jason Bernos speculated that the decision could have come by Monday. It turns out he was not correct, but his reasoning was sound:
The New Orleans Saints are desperate to get Brees back in the locker room and on the field.
He doesn't need the work, but the team needs his leadership and calmness in the midst of a dreary storm. Chase Daniel is a wonderful backup but not a starting quarterback in the NFL.
If the Saints offer to Brees is rejected, it could mean that even more Saints players would then have to restructure their deals to make room for the team's star. Of course, many players—including Will Smith, Jon Vilma, Jabari Greer and Lance Moore—have already made such sacrifices.
Here are a few more players who could make that sacrifice for the good of the team.
All salary information provided by Spotrac.
S Roman Harper
Roman Harper isn't exactly starving for money. His four-year, $25 million deal makes him the eighth highest-paid player on the team.
That's not bad for a guy who has underperformed since signing the deal. Harper and his representatives could make the argument that Harper still made the Pro Bowl in back-to-back years, despite playing in a poorly orchestrated defensive scheme.
They could also argue that Harper figures to get a lot better under Steve Spagnuolo, who understands defense like the back of his hand.
The Saints could also argue that, because Spagnuolo understands defense, Harper is expendable to the team and could release him altogether if he decided not to take a pay cut.
That scenario seems unlikely to say the least.
But if the Saints get desperate enough for Saint Brees, then Harper could become a cap casualty. He'd be wise to simply restructure, if given the option.
DT Sedrick Ellis
For a player drafted seventh overall in the 2008 NFL draft, Sedrick Ellis hasn't exactly lived up to the hype and potential.
Now the Saints are looking to replace him in nickel situations by rotating Will Smith and Cam Jordan to the defensive-tackle spots.
For a guy with a 2012 cap hit of $7.57 million, Ellis has been lacking in production.
The Saints are not going to simply cut Ellis (nor Harper), but they could use an extra million or two in change to get this Brees deal done.
Some kind of threat could be made if Ellis does not want to restructure the final year of his contract.
And if Ellis has a better-than-expected 2012 campaign, he will make his money back in the winter of 2013.
RB Darren Sproles
Darren Sproles shouldn't have to restructure his contract when he's making a mere $3.5 million per year.
But if the Saints get really desperate, he may just be asked to do so.
Remember the Saints are not only on the hook for a Brees deal, but they also need to begin planning for a Jimmy Graham extension, especially after the New England Patriots took care of business early, signing their dominant tight end Rob Gronkowski last week.
The cap clearing could take place with some remaining mid-level salaries, since some players who recently signed (Curtis Lofton, Brodrick Bunkley, Ben Grubbs and Marques Colston) are not going to restructure their deals.
As a result, Sproles could see his already paltry salary ("paltry" when measured against his level of production) decreased to get the general back into the building.
WR Devery Henderson
It's really not fair to ask a guy making $3 million per year to take a pay cut.
But considering Devery Henderson might not even be in the league if not for Drew Brees, it may make sense, after all.
Having his salary reduced by a million bucks or so would help the Saints re-sign Brees and maintain their offensive dominance. Of course we have to remember the game is about winning and not money.
And we should also remember that these are first-world problems, to say the least.
K Garrett Hartley
Perhaps no Saint player's salary is as inflated as Garrett Hartley's.
That's not to say he isn't a good kicker, but compared to other kickers and other Saints players, his production doesn't match his contract.
His cap hit in 2012 is $1.75 million. Believe it or not, that's higher than Malcolm Jenkins.
And unlike the rest of the guys on this list, Hartley faces the very real potential of being cut by the Saints, as he and veteran John Kasay have been battling in OTAs for the placekicker job.
If he loses that battle he is likely to get cut anyway. But if he is willing to trim his salary, that may actually aide him in keeping his hold on the No. 1 job.
My conclusion: Mickey Loomis should be down in the dumps right now.
He faces an eight-game suspension at the beginning of the 2012 regular season. And he has very little flexibility left with which to re-sign Drew Brees.
Only Roman Harper and Sedrick Ellis provide any real wiggle room in their deals. As mentioned before, Will Smith, Jon Vilma, Lance Moore and Jabari Greer already restructured their deals to make room for incoming talent.
They all took substantial cuts to maintain the core of this football team.
Greer's restructuring was the most beneficial for him, as he is still making somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million per year. On the open market he could have made a boatload more.
And Marques Colston, Ben Grubbs, Curtis Lofton and Brodrick Bunkley cannot restructure their deals even if they wanted to, since they just signed those contracts.
Loomis is basically screwed no matter what he does right now.
If he doesn't cave to Brees' demands, he's seen as the guy who won't give a Hall of Famer the contract he deserves.
And if he does cave to his demands, he puts the Saints in great financial peril for years to come—unless a few veterans come in and save the day by restructuring their current deals.