Saints' Updated 2021 Salary Cap After Jameis Winston's Reported $12M Contract

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIMarch 16, 2021

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Chicago Bears in New Orleans, Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

Jameis Winston is off the loaded board of free-agent quarterbacks, reportedly returning to the New Orleans Saints on a one-year, $12 million deal, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.   

The move came a day after Drew Brees announced his retirement, leaving Taysom Hill as the only rostered quarterback in New Orleans.

While it remains to be seen what sort of offense the Saints will go with in 2021—whether it will be up to Winston to find another of his 4,000-passing yard seasons or if Hill will bring his dual-threat ability back to the line of scrimmage—their salary-cap situation is beginning to take shape. 

At one point, the Saints were nearly $100 million over the projected salary-cap floor, per Luke Johnson of NOLA.com. In myriad ways, they've been able to claw that number down to a much more manageable $10 million by late Monday, per Over the Cap, though that was before Winston's deal was added. 

Among the moves made by the Saints was a restructured deal for Hill, who would have counted for $16.1 million against the cap (h/t Katherine Terrell of The Athletic). Instead, his base salary was made into a signing bonus, and he tacked four voidable years onto his deal, essentially creating an extension. Now, he's worth just $7.5 million against the cap in 2021. 

Multiple other deals were reworked, saving the Saints a total of $45 million via contract restructures, according to Terrell. 

Other players were also cut, including linebacker Kwon Alexander, in a move that saved the team $13.2 million. 

The Saints still have some work to do, but they're much closer than they were to being under the salary cap than they were back in February.