New NFL calendar kicks off as Saints begin to get house in order



Tackle Jermon Bushrod is looking for a big deal and with consecutive Pro Bowl appearances he is likely to get it.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton got the new season going a few weeks ago when he fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The move came a day after meeting with his staff for the first time after serving his season-long suspension. Monday kicked off the NFL’s new calendar season in earnest as February 18 was the first day teams could place the franchise tag on a player.

Quarterback Drew Brees was franchise tagged last season and we all saw how well that went. Teams place the tag on players more as a way to buy time to work out a longer term deal than it is in hopes of having the player play for the franchise tag salary. A player franchised is guaranteed the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position, a pretty penny yet routinely players tagged see it a sign of disrespect or insulting.

The Saints don’t have any obvious players like Brees that could be franchise tagged out of their 11 unrestricted free agents. Those players being: tackle Jermon Bushrod, wide receiver Devery Henderson, quarterback Chase Daniel, wide receiver Courtney Roby, tackle William Robinson, on offense. The defensive free agents are: defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, linebacker Scott Shanle, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, defensive end Turk McBride, cornerback Elbert Mack and linebacker Ramon Humber.

Bushrod because of the position stands out as the top name but to franchise tag him it would cost the Saints $9.668 million, the cost to franchise tag an offensive lineman. Problem aside from Money, which is something the Saints don’t have per an ESPN report that says the Saints are $13.5 million over the salary cap, is that Bushrod wants a long deal. Bushrod signed a short two-year deal in 2010 for $9.5 million and said at the time it was to make sure he could see a pay day in the future.

The team will try and get Bushrod signed as finding a starting left tackle much less one that has played in two straight Pro Bowls is hard to find. It’ll simply come down to money. How much does Bushrod feel he deserves to how much the team is willing to spend on a budget that is already tight.

Saints defensive end Will Smith will need to restructure his deal if he wants to still wear the Black and Gold.


The fact that the Saints are over the cap before they even can add talent to help fill needs means that high salaries will have to be restructured or cut.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that two contracts at the top of the trim list are that of defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma. Shefter says that the team will ask both players to restructure their deals. Smith is set to make $10.15 million for 2013 and Vilma set to make $6 million in the final year of the deal.

The team started last week trying to get down under that cap by restructuring the deal of linebacker LB Curtis Lofton. The ESPN report says that Lofton’s cap was set to be $7.1 million but the Saints were able to drop that to $3.1 by replacing a scheduled roster bonus of $5 million with a $5 million signing bonus that will be pro-rated over the remainder of the deal. A move that saves the team $4 million.

March 12 is the date for when a team must be below the Salary cap.

Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma

Smith in the last three seasons combines has only 18 sacks, back in 2009 he had a 13-sack season. Smith did have 58 total tackles this past year which was his highest number since 2008.

Vilma played in 11 games this season picking up 37 tackles, a pick which became a pick-6 and a sack.


This past Saturday Saints head coach Sean Payton welcomed another addition to his staff when the team announced the hiring of Dan Roushar as running backs coach.

Bret Ingalls will move to coach the offensive line after coaching the running backs since 2009.

Roushar spent the last six-years at Michigan State with the last two as offensive coordinator and tight ends coach. Last season, Spartans running back La’Veon Bell won the Big Ten rushing title with 1,793 yards. Bell’s totals were the second highest single-season total in MSU history.


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