A few weeks ago I wrote a column suggesting that the New Orleans Saints would not re-sign starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod. However, with the Saints restructuring four contracts yesterday, keeping Bushrod might be a possibility.
Since the restructuring those contracts the Saints are now only about $5 million over the salary cap. Furthermore, if Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith accept smaller contracts then the Saints should be able to get under the salary cap.
Bushrod has stated that he covets a long term deal with the Saints to ensure himself some financial stability. The Saints and Bushrod have yet to get serious about a new contract but Bushrod feels it could happen soon. However, Saints’ general manager Mickey Loomis has already said that the Saints will not use the franchise tag on Bushrod. The question remains, will the Saints re-sign Bushrod?
Does Loomis have some magic left up his sleeve to pull a deal off to keep Bushrod, who could easily demand a contract worth about $6-$8 million a year? If the Saints can get significantly under the salary cap they might be able to make it work. Surely if Vilma and Smith accept smaller contracts it would help, but there is another player that could help the Saints get even more under the salary cap.
Drew Brees is set to make $17.4 million next season, the most of any Saints player on the current roster. If Brees restructured his contract there should be enough money left over to give Bushrod the contract that he desires. However, as I have stated in my last column, it would hurt the Saints in the long term if Brees restructures his contract now.
Vilma and Smith would definitely need to happen to keep Bushrod but there is still a way for the Saints to get under the salary cap even if Brees does not restructure. The Saints could always restructure some other contracts and not re-sign some of their impending free agents and that might be enough to save some money for Bushrod’s deal.
Only time will tell if the Saints are able to keep Bushrod but all of the restructured contracts is a step in the right direction. Free agency begins on March 12th and if the Saints want to keep Bushrod talks need to begin as soon as possible.