Around the League is taking a look at each team's salary-cap situation heading into training camp. We continue with the New Orleans Saints.
Adjusted cap number: $126.335 million
Cap room remaining: Around $8 million
Best bargain: In his second NFL season, tight end Jimmy Graham exploded for 99 receptions, 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns. According to Football Outsiders Almanac 2012, Graham was targeted 30 times on pass plays over 16 yards. On those plays, he came down with an impressive 20 receptions for 550 yards and four touchdowns. The 6-foot-7, 260-pound Graham, one of the more dynamic tight ends in the game, is entering the third year of his rookie contract worth $540,000 in base salary.
Potential camp casualty: The Saints diminished the need to create cap space this August when they reached a five-year, $100 million contract with franchised quarterback Drew Brees. That move created nearly $6 million in cap space, giving the team plenty of breathing room to get through the upcoming season. If the need to save some cash and create more space should arise, 30-year-old wide receiver Devery Henderson could be worth keeping an eye on.
Henderson caught nine passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns in the first two weeks of the 2011 season, but Graham, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore and Robert Meachem ate into Henderson's opportunities. In the final 14 games, Henderson caught 23 passes for 300 yards, and he didn't find the end zone again until a playoff win over the Detroit Lions. Henderson is due to earn $2.65 million in base salary in 2012, which is the final season of his current contract.
Contract issue looming in 2013: Good teams build in the trenches, and the Saints will have decisions to make on both sides of the ball next offseason. On offense, it's left tackle Jermon Bushrod, who signed a two-year, $9.65 million contract after the lockout. Bushrod is a good, not great left tackle, and with the amount of money the Saints have invested at the guard position, they could skimp at tackle and move Charles Brown to the left side in 2013.
On defense, Sedrick Ellis' rookie contract expires after this season. The 6-foot-1, 307-pound Ellis has started all 54 regular-season games he's been active, totaling 137 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Ellis is coming off his least productive season, posting just 29 tackles and a share of a quarterback sack. Ellis was frequently double-teamed last season, an occurrence that could decrease with the free-agent addition of Brodrick Bunkley.