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Salary Cap Expert Suggests Extreme Move For A Saints, Derek Carr Trade

The New Orleans Saints are $57 million over the salary cap, but the team can free up the money to trade for quarterback Derek Carr.
Saints Salary Cap

As of this posting, the New Orleans Saints appear to be the frontrunners in a potential Derek Carr trade. While no trade is imminent, the Saints are bringing the quarterback in for a visit, so there is clearly some interest on both sides. However, if the Saints want to trade for Carr, they’ll need to clear up some salary cap space.

After mortgaging the future for the final few years of the Drew Brees Era, the Saints are currently $57 million over the 2023 salary cap. Carr’s current contract carries a $33 million cap hit if traded, which means that if the Saints acquire Carr, they’ll need to find a way to clear $90 million in just a few months. While this sounds impossible, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap determined a way for New Orleans to free up enough money to facilitate a trade for Derek Carr.

Salary Cap Expert Shows How Saints Can Afford Derek Carr

As shown above, the Saints have the exact amount of money required to trade for Carr. However, that doesn’t mean that they’d be done spending for the year after trading for Carr. The quarterback currently carries a $33 million cap hit and, according to the CBA, the Saints are not permitted to add new contracts if it puts them over the salary cap. Because of this, they need to clear that $90 million in order to fit Carr’s current contract on the books.

Once he’s on the team, however, the Saints are allowed to modify Carr’s deal. The longtime Raider doesn’t have any guaranteed money left on his deal, and according to Over the Cap, the Saints could clear up to $21 million in salary cap space with a contract restructure. lower Carr’s  2023 cap number by as much as $21 million by restructuring his current deal. This would give the Saints enough money to sign their draft class and make a few smaller free agent signings, although it would increase Carr’s cap hit in later years.

Of course, just because the Saints could do all this doesn’t mean that they should. Quarterback is the most important position in football, and the right passer can elevate a mediocre team to glory. However, is Derek Carr good enough to justify this type of investment?

Why They Should Do It

On the one hand, Derek Carr is easily the best option of all veteran quarterbacks likely to reach the market. Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston clearly aren’t the answers, and unless the Ravens trade Lamar Jackson, Carr is going to be the best veteran available. Additionally, the team is picking late in the first round, so they won’t have a chance to get a top quarterback prospect.

Every single roster in the NFC South is in rough shape, so chances are, the team with the best quarterback will win the division. Carr is no superstar, but he’s probably good enough to guide this team to a division title with a 9-8 record.

Why The Saints Shouldn’t Do It

On the other hand, should the Saints really go all-in on Derek Carr? Mortgaging the future for Drew Brees made sense – he’s a Hall of Fame quarterback and you should do everything you can to maximize that window of elite play. Derek Carr, meanwhile, is a league-average starter that is only as good as his surroundings.

Even looking beyond the quarterback position, the Saints roster needs some help. While they have a few good players, the roster lacks any type of depth and the lack of draft picks is starting to have an impact on the on-field product. Carr might be good enough to win eight or nine games with this supporting cast, but he’s not good enough to turn the team into a serious contender. And while restructing Carr’s contract would create some short-term cap space, it wouldn’t give them enough money to completely rebuild the team.

In a vacuum, Derek Carr gives the Saints the best chance to win in 2023. However, when you factor in everything it would take to get him, he’s just not worth the price. The Saints salary cap woes are too extreme, and the team would be better off bringing back Dalton or signing Jacoby Brissett to a cheap deal while embracing a short rebuild with a chance to compete in 2024 or 2025.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports


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