No one does salary-cap gymnastics quite like Mickey Loomis and his New Orleans Saints front office. Now, they've given themselves a few more aerial cartwheels to account for in the coming week.
Sitting as the most cap-strapped team in the NFL didn't stop the Saints from utilizing the franchise tag Tuesday.
The club is placing the franchise tender on safety Marcus Williams, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport first reported, per a source informed of the situation. New Orleans later announced the news.
The salary cap is not officially set, so figures aren't finalized, but the franchise tag for safeties is estimated at around $10.5 million.
The Saints have wanted to find a way to retain the former second-round pick, who remains a key member of New Orleans' stifling defense. Williams is a plus playmaker roving all over the formation. He earned 59 tackles, seven passes defended and three interceptions in 14 games in 2020.
Tagging Williams means more salary-cap gymnastics for Loomis and his staff. New Orleans is the gold standard when it comes to kicking the can down the road to continue to build its roster despite the salary-cap questions. The Saints are projected to be roughly $58 million above the salary cap projections, per Over The Cap.
An extension for Williams could come down the road to lock him up long term and lower his cap. The $10-plus-million safety tag is actually very affordable, which is likely why the Saints utilized that option rather than battle to retain the 24-year-old on the open market. Williams likely would have fetched a massive deal had he hit free agency, even with the salary cap shrinking.
The move could also mean extensions for fifth-year-option players -- right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and corner Marshon Lattimore --- are on the way. Lowering each's cap number would go a long way to alleviating some of the salary-cap concerns.
Once again, even in a year when the salary cap is shrinking, the Saints prove that if teams really want to retain a player, they'll find a way to make it work under the salary cap.