6 Saints most likely to restructure their contracts in 2023

The New Orleans Saints exceeded the most optimistic salary cap projections for 2023 by tens of millions of dollars, but their approach to getting under that cap should be more typical of what we see around the league. General manager Mickey Loomis and vice president of football administration Khai Harley have expressed a desire to manage their head responsibilities less aggressively than when Sean Payton led the organization as head coach, which makes sense.

You can’t push all your chips forever. You lose depth and put a ton of pressure on your starters to contribute right away. Your margin for error is razor thin. If a few signings or draft picks don’t live up to expectations and you don’t have a Hall of Fame quarterback and/or coach to pick up the slack, you go 7-10 and remain on the outside during the playoffs.

That said: contract restructuring will always be part of how the Saints work around the cap. It’s a common tool in the league. Now, we may not see the Saints routinely restructure the contracts of nine or ten players every spring, but we should expect four or five smart reworkings. And here are six possible restructuring candidates to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead:

CB Marshon Lattimore

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Lattimore has one of the highest salaries on the team at $22.4 million, which will almost certainly be reduced through the restructuring. The Saints can drop his base salary from $14.5 million to the league minimum and convert the difference into a signing bonus (just like they did last year), saving just over $10 million against the cap if they use it. He’s still a core part of New Orleans’ defense despite being limited to just seven games in 2022 due to injury.

DE Cameron Jordan

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Jordan’s $25.7 million salary cap leads the team, so something has to be done. And the only way the Saints can really save money here is to restructure his contract, sign him to an actual extension, or release him with a designation after June 1st (or trade him after that date). Letting him go doesn’t seem like an option given his importance to the team. Jordan turns 34 this summer and may not have too many years to play, so restructuring is the most likely solution. The maximum restructuring could save more than $10 million.

RT Ryan Ramczyk

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Ramczyk has come under fire from fans for not living up to expectations after signing a contract extension, but he’s still a cornerstone of their offensive line and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. He has a high salary cap hit of $21.4 million, but the Saints would have to pay even more money to release or trade him before June 1. His June 1 tag cut would only be accomplished, though trading him after that date would save $14 million — which wouldn’t help the Saints during free agency in March. Restructuring is the simplest solution that could save the team up to $9.6 million.

C Erik McCoy

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McCoy just signed an extension last year, and like many multi-year contracts, the Saints set him up for restructuring in the second year of his contract. He’s already playing at the veteran’s minimum salary, but his $10 million bonus puts his cap hit at $12.6 million. The Saints can turn that one-season roster bonus into a multi-year signing bonus and save $8 million, which should be an easy decision. Hopefully McCoy’s health will improve after missing some time in both 2022 and 2021.

RB Alvin Kamara

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The camera is in a strange place. He will likely be suspended for multiple games in 2023 after his battery case in Las Vegas is resolved, and the forfeited game checks will be taken out of his base salary. He’s also coming off possibly his worst year as a pro with just 1,387 scrimmage yards and as many fumbles as touchdowns (4). The Saints might consider moving on in a year or two, but for now it makes sense for both sides to restructure his base salary into a signing bonus. That saves the team more than $7 million and gives Kamara some security since the league office wouldn’t be able to take him away like weekly game checks if he’s suspended.

TE Taysom Hill

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Can Hill play wherever Sean Payton is coaching in 2023? We can’t rule it out, but it seems like a move that should be delayed. Moving Hill saves the Saints just $50,000 before June 1 (in a trade; releasing him costs an additional $9.8 million on top of what they’re already paying). Trades can’t carry the tag after June 1 like cuts can, so if Payton wants to trade for Hill this summer, he’ll have to wait. And that would save the Saints $9.9 million. But let’s get ahead of ourselves. Hill is likely to be asked to restructure, lowering his $13.9 million cap hit and saving the Saints just over $6.6 million.

The story originally appeared on Saints Wire

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