NFC South cap room update

Now that quarterback Drew Brees and rookie receiver Nick Toon have been signed by the New Orleans Saints, it’s time to provide an update on NFC South salary-cap space.

Really, the Saints are the only team that have had a change since the last time we updated you on this. Tampa Bay remains $15.7 million under the cap, although that number will drop by about $2 million once rookie safety Mark Barron signs. Atlanta still is at $2.8 million and Carolina is at $8.8 million.

But the Saints’ cap situation has changed dramatically. They were only $2.1 million under the cap before signing Brees and Toon, but Brees is the key figure here. Although he got a five-year, $100 million contract, Brees actually helped the 2012 cap situation. Instead of counting for more than $16 million as the franchise player, Brees now counts $10.4 million against this year’s cap.

That puts the Saints right at $8 million under the cap. The Saints also would free up an additional $4.95 million for this year if the season-long suspension for linebacker Jonathan Vilma is upheld.

The Saints still have some areas of need, particularly in the pass rush. Now that they’ve got some cap room, don’t be surprised if they use it to try to give defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo some more guys that can get after opposing quarterbacks.