Jimmy Graham, Saints Cap Trouble, & The Void Year

Jason brought up a very interesting point in his breakdown of Jimmy Graham’s new contract: the potential role that the Saints’ poor future cap outlook had on Graham’s willingness to accept this deal. Specifically, he mentioned how difficult it’ll be for the Saints to keep Graham’s $11 million cap figure on their 2015 books. And since Graham’s 2015 salary is guaranteed, the Saints might have to explore the option of adding a voidable year to the deal.

While adding a voidable year would provide the Saints with 2015 cap flexibility, it would increase Graham’s chances of earning his respective $9 million and $10 million salaries in 2016 and 2017.

Outlined below are two different scenarios. The first table represents Graham’s current contract, while the second table represents the scenario where the Saints convert $6 million of Graham’s 2015 base salary into a prorated bonus, while also adding a voidable year (2018).

*The last column in each table states how likely I think it is that Graham will be on the roster for that given year (I am seemingly more confident than Jason that Graham will fulfill the contract’s entirety).

 

Jimmy Graham’s New Contract 

YearBase
Salary
Prorated 
Bonus
Cap 
Number
Dead 
Money
Cap 
Savings
Total Cash Earned*Likelihood Of Graham On Roster
2014$1,000,000$3,000,000$4,000,000$13,000,000100%
2015$8,000,000$3,000,000$11,000,000$21,000,000>95%
2016$9,000,000$3,000,000$12,000,000$6,000,000$6,000,000$30,000,00090%
2017$10,000,000$3,000,000$13,000,000$3,000,000$10,000,000$40,000,00075%

 

Jimmy Graham’s New Contract w/ Void Year Added

YearBase
Salary
Prorated 
Bonus
Cap 
Number
Dead 
Money
Cap 
Savings
Total Cash Earned*Likelihood Of Graham On Roster
2014$1,00,000$3,000,000$4,000,000$13,000,000100%
2015$2,000,000$4,500,000$6,500,000$21,000,000100%
2016$9,000,000$4,500,000$13,500,000$10,500,000$3,000,000$30,000,000>95%
2017$10,000,000$4,500,000$14,500,000$6,000,000$8,500,000$40,000,00085%
2018void$1,500,000void$0voidvoidvoid

 

As shown, the addition of a voidable year would more or less guarantee Graham’s spot on the 2016 Saints roster. Additionally, it’d enhance Graham’s chances of being rostered in 2017.

You can go to the Saints 2015 salary cap page to see details of their cap mess. New Orleans has a whopping $152,812,277 on the 2015 books, and there aren’t many guys whose post-2014 releases would clear considerable cap space. They’d save $6 million by cutting Jahri Evans and $4.3 million with the release of Marques Colston—both of whom will be 32 by opening day in 2015. However, Evans and Colston have long been two of the Saints’ best players.

Ultimately, Mickey Loomis will likely have to navigate the Saints’ 2015 salary cap mess via the use of restructures and the addition of voidable years—-a reality that Graham’s agents were surely aware of this when negotiating this deal. Graham’s will be a prime candidate to have a void year added, meaning he’ll increase his chances of earning more money.

 

Andrew Cohen
@ajcohen03
ajcohen3@gmail.com
 


 

 

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  • Ghoston

    The Saints definitely have a worse situation than the Cowboys. Who knows if they have players that will be good free agents after the 2014 season, that they need to resign. I think they might have to touch the Brees contract.
    This is the most bleakest cap situation for 2015.

  • Jim

    This is a great example of “salary cap trouble” on paper, vs “salary cap trouble” in reality. The Jets in 2013 and 2014 on paper, had a salary cap mess (and a certain 4-letter network was sure to point it out at every opportunity), but in reality, Scott, Pace, Sanchez, Holmes, Cromartie were never going to earn their contracts, with only a little dead money (10-20%) there for players that weren’t playing at a high level.

    The Saints are in the same situation “on paper”, when you look at just the dollars committed for 2014, 2015, the difference being, none of those contracts were really meant to be ripped up and those players are still playing at a high level, and the dead money is more in the 50% range. Whereas the Jets won’t miss Holmes, the Saints would certainly miss Colston, and they don’t get nearly the salary cap relief in the process.

    The Jets backloaded contracts of players that were aging that enabled them to cut the players without significant impact. The Saints has continued to backload contracts and use heavy signing bonuses on players that are still playing at a high level in the last years of a contract making their only option to extend players, pushing (guaranteed) cap dollars into the future.

    Saints are in a world of a mess, there only hope is win another SB in the next couple years, to make the post-Brees era more tenable as they rebuild with huge dead money on their cap. Reality is going to hit sooner or later, I’m guessing the year after Brees retires and that SB-contending window closes, they will be looking at a roster a lot like the Raiders in 2013 just to purge the dead money from their books.