Even accounting for a $143MM salary cap for 2015, the Saints are currently projected to be about $21MM over the threshold, meaning the team will have to make a handful of moves to get under the cap prior to the new league year. One such move may involve releasing high-priced guard Jahri Evans, but according to Katherine Terrell of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Saints have reached out to Evans’ camp to try to find a way to keep the veteran lineman.
Evans is currently on New Orleans’ books for $11MM for the 2015 season, the highest cap hit for any guard in the NFL. Releasing him, which Terrell reports the Saints were initially prepared to do, would create $6MM in cap savings, leaving $5MM in dead money on the club’s books. Reworking the deal to incorporate a pay cut likely wouldn’t create quite that much cap room, but it would allow the Saints to hang onto a player who has made six consecutive Pro Bowls, and would help the team make some progress toward getting under the cap.
Evans’ current contract runs through the 2016 season, and by the start of the 2017 campaign, he’d be 34 years old, so the Saints may not be inclined to tack any extra years onto the deal. Still, Terrell hears from a source that the veteran’s top choice is to remain with the Saints, and with the possibility of a release lingering as a viable option for New Orleans, he may be willing to reduce his salary in exchange for some additional guaranteed money.
Even if they work out something with Evans, the Saints will have to address the contracts for a number of other players, including their other guard, Ben Grubbs, who counts for $9.6MM against 2015’s cap. Head coach Sean Payton recently indicated that his team doesn’t currently have any plans to restructure Drew Brees‘ contract – which features a $26.4MM cap number – so if that’s the case, then players like Junior Galette, Jimmy Graham, Jairus Byrd, and Marques Colston look like top candidates to have their deals tweaked.