The next big thing: Saints

It’s not hard to identify the biggest issue for the New Orleans Saints this offseason. Their top priority will be to re-sign unrestricted free-agent tight end Jimmy Graham, either through a long-term deal or the franchise tag. Either one will be groundbreaking since Graham represents the new breed of hybrid tight end/wide receiver in the NFL.

But Graham’s deal isn’t the only one that will keep the Saints busy over the next two months. They’re about $12.5 million over the projected salary cap of $126.6 million – without counting Graham. So they’ll have to release players, work out pay cuts, and restructure deals to make room for the free agents they want to sign. Other full-time players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents are safety Malcolm Jenkins and offensive linemen Zach Strief and Brian De La Puente.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis insisted the Saints will be prepared since this isn’t their “first rodeo" when it comes to the salary-cap squeeze. And he insisted the Saints will still be aggressive in trying to improve the team. But he admitted their options will be limited.