Saints won’t tender Tom Johnson: report

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson (96) works before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson (96) works before the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

The Saints won’t tender defensive end Tom Johnson, a restricted free agent, USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reported late Thursday.

 

A restricted free agent can receive offers from other teams, but clubs can match any deals if they tender the player. The Saints haven’t commented on the report.

Johnson, a former Canadian Football League player who joined the Saints in 2011, played in 12 games in 2013. He had two sacks and, according to his team, 15 tackles (six solo), providing depth at defensive end under first-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan as well as Akiem Hicks.

Johnson earned a base salary of $750,000 last year.

In bit of good news for Saints, ESPN reports salary cap will be higher than thought

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton smiles before an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game in Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton smiles before an NFC divisional playoff NFL football game in Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

ESPN is reporting that the NFL may set its 2014 salary cap at $130 million; and if the information checks out, the Saints will undoubtedly be pleased.

That’s because the Saints, whose current cap figure is expected to be $125.3 million, will be further under the salary cap than first thought. Up till now, estimates pegged the cap at about $126 million.

That should make things slightly easier for the Saints to accomplish their offseason goals, the top of which is freeing up enough money to re-sign All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a new long-term contract or, failing that, to use the franchise tag on him.

It’s anticipated that Graham, who spent most of his time in 2013 lining up out wide for the Saints, will file a grievance to be classified as a receiver and not as a tight end for the purposes of the franchise tag. A franchise tag is projected to be worth about $5 million more for a wide receiver than it is for a tight end.

More than $10 million of the Saints’ cap figure is “dead money,” or dollars they can’t recover and owe to players who are no longer on the roster because they retired, were cut or were traded. ESPN’s Mike Triplett says most of that money is owed to Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer, high-priced defensive veterans who were recently released; and kicker Garrett Hartley, cut late last season.