ProFootballTalk has come out with the updated salary cap numbers of each NFL team and to little surprise is the fact that the Saints have one of the least amounts of room among the 32. As of 6/22, the Saints are operating at $2.27 million under the salary cap which gives them the 30th most space out of 32 teams. Only the Raiders and Ravens are in worse shape, although 14 of the 32 teams are within $5 million of the limit. Funny enough the Falcons are in rough shape too, just one spot ahead of the Saints, at $2.83 million. The Buccaneers, despite being massive spenders this offseason, are still $15.74 million under the cap, and the Panthers are in solid shape too at $8.76 million. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have proven to be the most cost conscious, operating at $25.1 million under the cap. No wonder they are so bad. The Jets, Cowboys and Redskins, long presumed to be in cap hell, are all floating around $6 million, good for middle of the pack in the league.
That Saints are clearly spending now to suffer later and... at some point in the not too distant future it will force their hand into a mass exodus to clear the books. Drew Brees' contract, which by the way is supposed to actually help the Saints' cap figure in the short term due to cap friendly figures at the start of it, will only expand that over growing figure. You have to give Mickey Loomis credit, though, for finding a way to make it all work. I do get the peace of mind knowing as long as he's around, he will always make sure the positively necessary things get taken care of (ahem, like Brees' contract). That said, all these veterans under long term contracts (Marques Colston, Pierre Thomas, Roman Harper, Lance Moore, Jahri Evans, Garrett Hartley, Darren Sproles, Curtis Lofton, Jabari Greer... etc...) have backloaded deals that with each passing year will be tougher to fit together under the salary cap maximum, especially once you include Drew Brees' contract which figures to possibly be the largest in NFL history.
Enjoy the winning while the team is still competitive, because at some point when these players start to decline, they'll be at their most expensive, and the Saints will suffer the consequences of success in a league with a salary cap. All good teams do eventually and the Colts are going through that now. It's the really smart ones that don't stay down for long, though, and as long as Loomis and Sean Payton stick around, you figure the Saints should be able to bounce back from a rainy day quickly.