First edition of the 2022 Cap Health Rankings, with a handful of updates from prior versions:
1. Now using weighted averages for each category
2. Roster quality matters more pic.twitter.com/wAyqEoJDsw
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) May 17, 2022
The salary cap management approaches of the New Orleans Saints are always a hot topic. As a team that tends to operate up against the NFL’s limits, restructures contracts, and pushes spending down the road, the Saints are often references in one of two ways when it comes to their finances. Either they’re considered geniuses of the trade, or constantly navigating “cap hell.”
According to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, the latter is the more accurate assumption. The Saints rank dead-last in his “cap health rankings” going into the 2022 season. General manager Mickey Loomis has shared his thoughts on curving spending a bit to help get the New Orleans in a more advantageous position, but it hasn’t stopped the Saints from having a pretty impactful offseason in free agency.
Despite starting the league year more than $70 million over the salary cap, the team has managed to re-sign quarterback Jameis Winston, bring in impactful free agent signings like safeties Marcus Maye and Tyran Mathieu as well as wide receiver Jarvis Landry, the team also retained some key in-house free agents like wideout Deonte Harty and versatile defensive back P.J. Williams. And they’ve got nearly $10 million to spare.
If that’s the work of an unhealthy salary cap team, sign me up year-in and year-out. The most interesting part of this list are the results of the teams in each half of the rankings. Would you rather a successful team or a cap healthy team? Because there looks, at least for the 2022 season, to be a divide between the two.
Of the teams listed Nos. 1 to 16 on Spielberger’s list, the combined win percentage is 43.4% (117-153-2) while the record for those ranked at Nos. 17 to 32 is 55.1% (150-122). That’s a decidedly big difference. The same discrepancy comes with postseason play. Of the teams in the top half of this metric, only four were playoff teams in 2021. Meaning the remaining 10 can be found in the bottom-half of the rankings.
It’s almost as if spending money to increase the talent of your team or hold on to the talent that has helped to build a contender results in more success. Easy to chalk this up to revisionist history though. So, the 2022 season will be an interesting one to watch and revisit. Does being a healthy salary cap team benefit these clubs going into the next year? Time will tell and the results will be most interesting.