Saints morning report: Dead money

As ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert broke down, the New Orleans Saints rank fourth in the NFL in "dead money" on their 2014 salary cap. They have $10.45 million in leftover signing-bonus charges from players no longer with the team.

That’s not surprising, considering the Saints just released three of their highest-priced veterans last week (Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer), who account for a combined $8.7 million of that total. Kicker Garrett Hartley, who was released late last season, counts for another $1 million. And former linebacker Chris Chamberlain counts for $400,000, among several other small charges.

That’s not ideal, obviously. As former NFL executive and current NFL business analyst Andrew Brandt said, “Dead money catches up to you. Because you’re not playing on a level playing field if the cap is $128 million, and you’re only playing with $115 million.”

That being said, it doesn’t mean the Saints were wrong to part ways with those veterans at this stage of their careers. They saved millions more in cap space -- and in real money -- by cutting their large salaries. And next year, that dead money will be off the books, which will give the Saints some wiggle room to sign free agents into future years.

Here’s a roundup of some of the other top Saints-related links around the web this week:

  • Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Jordan said he wants to carry on the tradition that was started by those great defensive leaders who were released, according to Alex Restrepo of NewOrleansSaints.com.

  • The Advocate’s Ramon Antonio Vargas caught up with Smith, who said he’s not ready to call it quits yet, even though he was able to enjoy some rare family time while rehabbing from injury last year.

  • Saints punter Thomas Morstead is encouraging fans to donate blood on Friday -- inspired by his relationship with a local girl battling leukemia.

  • With the NFC South-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers set to unveil another uniform re-design, The Times-Picayune’s Jeff Duncan wrote that he loves the way the Saints have always clung to tradition with their classic unis. But he believes an alternate black helmet could be wildly popular once a year.

  • Make sure to check out ESPN.com’s coverage of the NFL scouting combine over the next week. Eagles reporter Phil Sheridan did an excellent job of looking at some of the cornerback prospects and some of the safety prospects who might be available late in Round 1. Those just happen to be two of the Saints’ biggest needs, as well.

  • And this post by Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas on Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier also caught my eye. Shazier compared himself to Tampa star Lavonte David -- exactly the style of player I think the Saints could use in their linebacking corps.

  • Last but not least, some shameless self-promotion. With the combine kicking off, it’s a good time to go back and read a column I really enjoyed writing and researching last year -- a detailed look at how the Saints scouted first-round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro from beginning to end.