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WhoDat!656 12-23-2014 08:25 AM

Breaking down Saints' 2015 roster decisions
METAIRIE, La. -- The salary cap is not the New Orleans Saints' biggest problem.

Yes, it's daunting. The Saints have more cap dollars on the books for 2015 than any team in the NFL (a whopping $161.3 million, according to ESPN Stats & Information).

But they've been in the same boat for three years, and they've proven time and again that they won't be paralyzed by the cap. Last year they signed Jairus Byrd, Jimmy Graham and Junior Galette to mega-deals under similar circumstances.

It will be relatively easy for the Saints to trim the necessary $20 million or so by restructuring deals, releasing aging veterans and working out pay cuts. They'll trim $10 million with a simple tweak to Galette's deal, for instance.

The only way the Saints could bring back Marques Colston would be at a significantly-reduced rate.And yes, that means New Orleans will have to keep “kicking the can” into future years. But it can keep doing that until Drew Brees retires -- especially since the NFL cap is expected to keep soaring.

The bigger problem for the Saints, however, is that they didn't get anywhere near the expected returns out of the players they invested those mega-millions in this season.

Byrd tops that list -- he struggled for four weeks before suffering a major knee injury. Brees, Graham, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Marques Colston, Cameron Jordan and a number of younger defensive players are also on that list of underachievers.

The Saints absolutely must get bounce-back years from those guys to have any chance in 2015 and beyond.

If general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton knew they could count on those guys, then the specific roster decisions facing the team next year would be manageable. But it might be their toughest offseason yet, because for the first time they don't really know if their arrow is pointing in the right direction.

Here's a breakdown of the other major personnel decisions facing the team:

Breaking down Saints' 2015 roster decisions - New Orleans Saints Blog - ESPN

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