WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The New Orleans Saints have never been afraid of stretching the salary cap to is extremes. But general manager Mickey Loomis admitted that their current state wasn't part of the plan.
The Saints now have roughly $30 million in "dead money" counting against this year's cap -- which is the most in the NFL and represents more than one-fifth of their total cap costs.
The Saints just added $5.45 million to their total by releasing embattled linebacker Junior Galette -- who will count another $12.1 million in dead money next year.
The Saints should also carry at least $1.8 million in dead money after releasing injured defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley. And they previously incurred $20 million in dead money by trading Jimmy Graham and Ben Grubbs and releasing Curtis Lofton.
"You hope it's not necessary, that's for sure," Loomis said Wednesday. "I think everyone's got to deal with dead money at times. That's the nature of the way this cap works and our system works. What's difficult is the unexpected dead money, and so we have a little bit of that and we have to overcome that.
"I think we're pretty good at that without undermining the ability to improve our roster. We'll overcome it, we'll handle it and overcome it."
Loomis is right about the fact that the Saints have not let tight salary-cap constraints keep them from being active in free agency. This year, they signed free-agent cornerback Brandon Browner and running back C.J. Spiller and re-signed running back Mark Ingram. The year before that, they made safety Jairus Byrd one of the NFL's highest-paid free agents.
I have no doubt the Saints will continue to do that next year, even though they're already on pace to begin the offseason around $10 million over the cap. They could slice that number dramatically by extending quarterback Drew Brees' deal, among other options.
However, Loomis has always stressed that living so close to the cap ceiling every year reduces your margin for error on the deals you make.
So they'll pay a steep price for missing as badly as they did with Galette's four-year, $41.5 million contract last September.