NFL

Four Main Salary Cap Killers

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Free agency is right around the corner.

March 9th is officially the first day of free agency, but before teams can fully start targeting certain guys, they have some in-house to take care of first.

Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the top salary cap killers.

Drew Brees – The New Orleans Saints seem to be stuck in mud.

After losing to the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round of the playoffs two years ago, the Saints have disappointed with back-t0-back (7-9) seasons. However, considering how poorly they’ve been defensively, it’s pretty remarkable they’ve been able to finish so close to the .500 mark.

In 2014, New Orleans finished 31st in points allowed and this past season, they finished dead last in that category, allowing 26.5 points per game.

With Brees just turning 37 a month ago, many are wondering if it’s time to cut their losses and prepare for the future. After all, Brees is set to count $30 million against the cap this upcoming season, which would make it nearly impossible for them to address areas of need.

Nonetheless, general manager Mickey Loomis wants to keep the future Hall of Famer around.

“We want Drew to be our quarterback this year, next year and the foreseeable future,” Loomis stressed. “I know he feels like he’s got more years left in him. I would say we feel that way as well. We’ll get that worked out in a way that helps our team and obviously fits in with what he wants to do.”

Brees is more than just a football player, he’s an ambassador for the city of New Orleans, so it’s likely he’ll be willing to work out a deal that allows the franchise to bring in help defensively.

But for now, his contract limits what Loomis can do.

Ndamukong Suh – When the Miami Dolphins acquired Suh, the belief was that he’ll be the guy to take this franchise to the next level. Unfortunately for Dolphins fans that wasn’t the case during year one.

As a team, Miami finished with only 31 sacks, which is nine sacks fewer than the previous season without Suh.

Individually, the former second-overall pick totaled a mere six sacks.

While that total isn’t terrible for an inside player, when Miami made him the highest paid defensive player ever, you’d expect more production.

Suh signed with the Dolphins on a six-year, $114 million deal.

Now, with free agency quickly approaching, many are wondering how Miami will be able to address their needs, considering Suh’s cap number is set to hit $28.6 million this year.

Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum addressed the matter.

“By the time we get to the first day of the league year, we should have plenty of room to address the needs that we have,” Tannenbaum said. “Certainly we will be looking at Suh’s contract.”

Matt Ryan – You’ll be hard pressed to find a quarterback that’s regressed as much as Matt Ryan over the past couple of seasons.

It seems like yesterday when Ryan was apart of the ‘elite’ discussion, but now he’s simply looked at as a massive underachiever.

This past season, Ryan had a touchdown to interception ratio of 21:16, while completing 66 percent of his passes.

Like with Suh, it’s about getting the best bang for your buck and while those are decent numbers, for a quarterback that’s set to make $50 million over the next three seasons, it’s simply not good enough.

The Falcons need to really sit down and see if Ryan is the right man for the job moving forward. However, if Atlanta wanted to truly move on, they’ll have to find someone willing to take on Ryan’s lucrative contract.

Joe Flacco – Only Drew Brees and Ndamukong Suh have bigger salary cap numbers than Flacco in 2016.

With that in mind, it’ll make perfect sense for Baltimore to attempt to reconstruct Flacco’s current deal or just simply extend him.

Nonetheless, Flacco’s agent, Joe Linta, had this to say.

“Joe has a contract and he’s happy with it,” Linta stated. “I’m not saying that we wouldn’t talk to them to help them out if possible. We’d be happy to try and help. But it’s not a big deal right now.”

It may not be a big deal now, but it will be when free agency officially begins March 9.

Baltimore has plenty of areas to address and it’ll be nearly impossible to get anything done without talking to Flacco and Linta.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.