Let’s take a look at the latest 2012 salary-cap figures for all four NFC South teams.
According to numbers obtained by ESPN.com, the Carolina Panthers have a division-high $129.9 million committed toward 2012. That puts the Panthers No. 3 in the league in the moment and they’ll have to make some moves to be compliant with the cap before the league year starts in March.
The other three NFC South teams aren’t in bad shape at the moment. The Atlanta Falcons are at $99.7, but they’re facing some major decisions on keeping some of their own free agents -- Brent Grimes, Curtis Lofton, John Abraham, Todd McClure and Thomas DeCoud -- and those could be costly.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are third at $97.024 million, but there could be some escalators that haven’t kicked in yet and could push the number higher.
The New Orleans Saints are last in the division at $95 million. But that number is misleading. The Saints almost certainly will be signing quarterback Drew Brees to a new contract and his cap figure for the first year likely will be somewhere around $15 million. After that, the Saints also have to make some decisions on key free agents like guard Carl Nicks, receiver Robert Meachem and cornerback Tracy Porter.