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3 Players the Saints Can Trade or Cut to Shed Salary for 2021

Three New Orleans Saints players who could be cut or traded in the 2021 offseason.
Three New Orleans Saints players who could be cut or traded in the 2021 offseason. / Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints are staring down a salary cap crisis heading into the 2021 offseason. With it, comes numerous difficult roster decisions.

Projected around $75 million over the 2021 NFL cap, New Orleans is facing a reality where they must cut or trade key players in order to field a team next season. This is one major issue the team will have to juggle while it waits on Drew Brees' retirement decision.

With that in mind, here are three players that the Saints can trade or cut to shed salary in 2021.

1. Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver

Facing a possible rebuild, there's little reason for the Saints to hold on to Michael Thomas. He brings an $18.8 million cap hit in 2021, so he could become a possible trade casualty. There should be a line of suitors ready to pounce on Thomas if he is up for trade, given that he's only 27 and posted four straight 1,000-plus receiving seasons to start his career.

2. Drew Brees, Quarterback

At 41 years old and after battling through major injuries, Brees is likley to retire. New Orleans has already restructured Brees’ contract to free up cap space in 2021, and further salary maneuvering will provide even more relief. While he isn't going to get cut or traded, the Saints can carry him on their books through June 1 and set his retirement for June 2, which allows them to spread his dead money over 2021 and 2022 instead of having to pay the bill all at once.

3. Jared Cook, Tight End

Jared Cook will be 34 by the start of next season, and it's clear his best days are behind him. The tight end grabbed just 37 receptions in 2020, meaning he's not someone New Orleans needs to keep. He was also responsible for a costly fumble in the team's Divisional Round loss. Carrying an $8 million roster bonus in March, the Saints would be smart to cut him.

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