The New Orleans Saints are in a bad situation with their salary cap heading into the 2013 offseason. At the end of the 2012 season, they were approximately $20 million over the estimated $121 million cap. They began to chip away at the difference on Friday when they restructured linebacker Curtis Lofton’s deal to be friendlier for the short-term.
Lofton, who signed a five-year, $27.5-million deal with the Saints last offseason, was due to count $7.1 million against the cap during the 2013 season. The Saints and Lofton, however, have agreed to turn his $5 million roster bonus into a $5 million signing bonus, which will pro-rate over the remainder of his contract. This move frees up $4 million in cap space, lowering his 2013 number to only $3.1 million.
Although this move will count more against the cap down the road, it frees up space now for the Saints and starts the process of getting them under the salary cap for 2013.
The 26-year-old linebacker was a tackle machine in his first year with the Saints, racking up 123 takedowns, one sack and two forced fumbles. He was brought in to replace Jonathan Vilma while he waited to return from his “BountyGate” suspension, but appears to have made the Saints middle linebacker expendable heading into 2013. With only five NFL seasons under his belt, Lofton still has plenty of production left to contribute as the Saints try to bounce back from a down year in 2012.
With plenty of ground left to gain, the Saints will surely be restructuring more deals in the next couple of weeks leading up to free agency. Don’t be surprised if some veteran players get the ax as well in an attempt to make some room for both any incoming free agents and the 2013 draft class.