Saints head coach Sean Payton joined Fox Sports 1 on Friday and discussed the issues facing his team this offseason, according to Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune.
The most notable free agent in New Orleans, without a doubt, is tight end Jimmy Graham. Now, if it comes down to a franchise tag, Graham will contend that he should be paid as a wide receiver rather than a tight end. The difference figures to be nearly $5MM ($11.6MM for WR and $6.8MM for TE).
“I know that Mickey Loomis, CAA (Creative Artists Agency), Jimmy Sexton (Graham’s agent) and all parties involved are going to work very hard and very diligently, no different than they did with Drew (Brees) on his contract,” Payton said. “With that being said, the first thing that comes to my mind with free agency is your own roster. I think often times that gets overlooked.
“The most challenging part of your job as a coach, and I share that with Mickey or anyone that has been with an organization as long as we have been, going on year nine, is some of the tough decisions that have to be made with regards to your cap with the ability that you possibly can sign Jimmy Graham.”
Holder points out safety Malcolm Jenkins, tackle Zach Strief and center Brian de la Puente as “key potential free agents” the team would like to re-sign. Easier said than done, noted Payton.
“It’s very easy to say ‘you are certainly going to get this done’ but you have to understand there is a budget here. That’s the challenging part. You are going to read these names that have already come across the ticker from Atlanta last week (Asante Samuel and Stephen Nicholas) and we will be no different.”
According to Holder, players that could become cap-casualties to help the Saints be able to afford signing Graham to a long-term contract include (figures courtesy of Holder):