There’s a reason the saying “deadlines spur actions” has become cliché.
It’s true. And during the NFL offseason, nothing can end an impasse like a deadline.
For the Saints, many of their lingering offseason issues will likely be resolved before the new league year begins. That’s because many players with uncertain futures with the club have bonuses due around that time.
If those players aren’t part of the future or the team wants to find a way to avoid paying out that money, there’s a good chance those moves will be made before the league year begins.
Here’s a look at some players who are due bonuses, via a variety of league sources:
OT Zach Strief
The Saints will have to quickly make a decision on Strief. The veteran right tackle is due to earn a $1.5 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year. If Strief cracks the roster, he can then earn up to $900,000 in per game bonuses for being active on Sundays. If New Orleans wants to bring Strief back, it could look to eliminate or restructure these bonuses to make his price more affordable.
G Jahri Evans
(Update: Evans was released on Feb. 8)
Evans played much better than last year and letting him go would mean the Saints need to find two guards instead of one. Evan’s salary becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year, the same day his $1 million roster bonus is due.
RB C.J. Spiller
Spiller is due a $1.55 million roster bonus, though it appears it is already guaranteed since he remained on the team five days after his contract was executed. This could be converted to a signing bonus to free up a little cash if he sticks on the team. Spiller’s $1.7 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the league year. It is only guaranteed for injury right now.
CB Brandon Browner
The Saints cornerback is due a $750,000 roster bonus on the third day of the league year and can earn another up to another $1.5 million in roster bonuses for being on the 46- and 53-man rosters during the season. Given that his base salary of $2.75 million is guaranteed, the only way New Orleans could get some relief is if it lets Browner go before his first bonus is due.
C Max Unger
The center has a $250,000 roster bonus due on the seventh day of the league year. His $4.250 base salary will jump by $200,000 since Unger earned an incentive by playing 99 percent of the offensive snaps. The Saints could look to extend his contract to bring his overall cap hit down.
LB Dannell Ellerbe
Ellerbe is one of the more interesting players on the roster. While his performance was solid this season, he wasn’t on the field enough to justify his price tag. If the Saints do not feel he can stay healthy, they could save $4.5 million by letting him go. Ellerbe has a $1 million roster bonus due on the third day of the league year.
WR Marques Colston
Colston has a $500,000 roster bonus due on the third day of the league year. That shouldn’t be an issue. The bigger decision will be whether the wide receiver is worth his $2.65 million base salary. The Saints already have $2.7 committed to Colston via signing bonus.
LB David Hawthorne
(Update: Hawthorne was released on Feb. 8)
The veteran linebacker is due a $500,000 roster bonus on the third day of the league year.
P Thomas Morstead
New Orleans could look to bring down Morstead’s overall cap charge of $4.45 million. Though, if that decision is made, the $400,000 roster bonus he is due on the fifth day of the league year should not be a major concern.
DE Cam Jordan
The defensive end is due to be paid a $6 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year. Look for this to be converted to a signing bonus.