Although the 2013 NFL regular season has yet to play out and the playoffs have not even started, we as fans are undeniably beginning to look to and think about the future. This is undoubtedly happening in all of our minds, whether we and our teams have secured a playoff spot, are still fighting for one or mathematically out of postseason contention.
The Houston Texans, for instance, are obviously pondering who their next head coach will be after having a terribly disappointing season and firing head coach Gary Kubiak. Likewise, the Chicago Bears will be fighting for the NFC North and a playoff spot Sunday, but they and their fans must also be wondering about the future of quarterback Jay Cutler, and whether he is their “guy” for the future, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
These are just two examples, and the New Orleans Saints are no different.
Next season the Saints will have some troubles with the salary cap and will be forced to cut aging players, restructure salaries and possibly go with younger, cheaper talent.
For example, safety Roman Harper is 31 and is slated to get $3.15 million in salary next season. He may be among those to go if he and New Orleans cannot agree to any kind of deal to restructure his contract. Cornerback Jabari Greer is on the books for over $4 million in salary next year, even though he will be coming back from a significant knee injury suffered just a couple weeks ago.
Even some members of the coveted offensive line may become casualties of the salary cap and other moves. Left tackle Charles Brown, who was benched in favor of rookie Terron Armstead, may not be around next season. Center Brian De la Puente, who has been a fixture on that line, may be asked to restructure his contract as well.
Others who may go also include Jonathan Vilma, Lance Moore, Zach Strief and Malcom Jenkins. All in all, next year’s team could look quite a bit different from this year’s, but it is all for a purpose.
Clearing up cap space will allow the Saints to keep those few players who are key to the team. These are guys like Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles. No matter what, however, any team coached by Sean Payton and led by Drew Brees will remain potent and deadly.