Saints' cap situation not that dire

It’s been a rough couple days for fans of the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans was eliminated from the playoffs by San Francisco on Saturday and the gloom is going to linger for a bit.

But I’ve got a little news that might help it begin to lift.

New Orleans’ salary-cap situation for 2012 isn’t quite as bad as early reports made it sound. League-wide cap figures had the Saints listed with about $106 million already committed toward the 2012 salary cap.

It turns out that number is about $12 million too high. That’s because the figure was including a charge of almost $12 million for quarterback Drew Brees. But 2012 was voided out of Brees’ contract, so the Saints are, for the moment, sitting at about $94 million.

That will change and you can add that $12 million — and then some — right back onto the Saints’ total. They almost certainly will sign Brees to a new contract. I just looked at the cap figures for the NFL’s top quarterbacks and it is likely Brees’ new deal will give him a cap figure somewhere around $15 million for 2012, unless the Saints really get creative in spreading out his money.

Still, that would only put the Saints up to around $109 million. That would leave them some room to re-sign some other key players and they have several. Receiver Marques Colston, guard Carl Nicks, receiver Robert Meachem, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, cornerback Tracy Porter, defensive tackle Shaun Rogers and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar are among those players not under contract for 2012.

Here’s the complete list of players not under contract for 2012 for the Saints and the rest of the NFC South teams.

Anyway, the bottom line is the Saints aren’t as bad off as we thought in terms of the salary cap. Brees undoubtedly will eat up a good chunk of that, but there still will be some room to work with. Keeping Nicks and Colston probably would get the Saints pretty close to the cap, but they also could restructure some existing contracts or release players to create more room.