Saints have 2nd-most salary cap space among NFC playoff teams

The New Orleans Saints have the second-most salary cap space among NFC 2020 playoff teams, and they’re the only squad to win its division:

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They took a long, winding road to get here, but the New Orleans Saints have done it: they’re finally in the clear against the 2021 salary cap. And they’re doing well. Right now, Over The Cap ranks the Saints 15th leaguewide with $11,379,424 in open cap space — a figure that places second-best among last season’s NFC playoff teams.

Only the Washington Football Team has more resources ($16,651,600) to work with, and they barely count. Remember, they won the sorry NFC East with a 7-9 record and were quickly bounced out of the wild-card round. As for AFC playoff squads, the Pittsburgh Steelers ($13,139,993), Indianapolis Colts ($14,283,749), and Cleveland Browns ($20,599,863) have more cash to throw around. Only the Steelers won their division last year.

So what should the Saints do with all this unused cap space? They should wade into the free agent market and start adding veteran talent at a discount, much like the Steelers, who have signed former Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram and ex-Cowboys offensive lineman Chaz Green. Both of those additions are adding experienced depth to the roster, and it’s a model the Saints should adopt.

Especially given New Orleans’ vulnerabilities. They needed help at defensive tackle even before David Onyemata was suspended for six games, and they still don’t have anyone they can start with confidence at cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore (or in relief for him, if he’s suspended following an offseason arrest). Another receiver to help replace Emmanuel Sanders would be welcome, too. There are some options available out in free agency but they are, by and large, more like one-year Band-Aids rather than long-term fixes. The Saints can improve; fans just need to keep expectations limited.

And with just 85 of 90 offseason roster spots filled, the Saints can add help without cutting anyone. That flexibility is going to be important once training camp kicks off and the veteran free agents still looking for work begin to accept below-market deals. It’ll be easier for New Orleans to pick up players than rival teams who have to let go of others to make room.

So it’s interesting to note that the Saints and Steelers are the only teams in the NFL to win a dozen or more games last year (and their divisions) while going into training camp with $11 million or more in cap space. Like Pittsburgh, New Orleans has kept its starting lineup largely intact. Let’s see if they can find more ways to improve before the first practice session.

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Too many self-inflicted hits squander Drew Brees’ likely-final Saints season

The New Orleans Saints were eliminated from the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after Drew Brees threw three interceptions.

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Drew Brees is leaving the Superdome, probably for the last time, after a loss. The longtime New Orleans Saints quarterback is said to be retiring after his 2020 season has concluded, which the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ensured with a 30-20 playoffs win on Sunday night.

Let’s be clear about this: the Buccaneers didn’t defeat the Saints because New Orleans beat them twice earlier this season. Tampa Bay didn’t do anything differently from those past matchups. If anything, they committed many of the same errors that cost them before, like running too often on early downs and forcing Tom Brady into trying too many difficult passes to the perimeter.

The Saints beat themselves, fair and square. Giveaways from the Saints offense — several poorly-thrown interceptions by Brees and a fumble jarred out of tight end Jared Cook’s mitt — allowed Brady to set up shop in New Orleans territory for a couple of quick drives to score each of Tampa Bay’s touchdowns. The Saints defense performed admirably, but Brees and the offense sold them out with those short fields.

Brees’ limitations were on display on a variety of passes. He couldn’t put enough air beneath his touch passes to Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, allowing the Buccaneers defenders to undercut routes and snatch the ball in flight. Brees remains as intelligent a passer as the NFL has ever seen, but his regressed arm strength eventually made his margin for error too thin to overcome.

It’s tough to see him go out like this. He carried the team for a decade while paired with some of the worst defenses in NFL history, the likes of which Brady and their peers have never known were possible. And when the Saints finally devoted time and resources into overhauling their defense to complement Brees, it was too late.

So that’s his legacy. The Saints have won more games over the last four years than in any other four-year stretch in franchise history, but they’ve got no postseason success to show for it. They’ve only reached one conference title game, and have watched every Super Bowl in that span from home.

And now they’re entering the wilderness without the face of their franchise. There are kids in high school who have never known a Saints team not led by Brees. Where things go next is anyone’s guess, but it’s not the end for New Orleans. They’re still plenty talented on both sides of the ball, and they should be back in the playoff picture for years to come. It’s just such a shame they won’t have Brees in front with them along the way.

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WATCH: Jameis Winston subs in, throws 56-yard TD to Tre’Quan Smith

New Orleans Saints backup QB Jameis Winston stepped in for a trick play and threw a long touchdown pass against his old Buccaneers team.

Yeah, you read that headline right. Sean Payton is in his bag, subbing Jameis Winston in for Drew Brees before shifting the formation to a wildcat play for Alvin Kamara.

Kamara handed the ball off to Emmanuel Sanders running through the backfield on a sweep — who tossed it to Winston, lined up out wide. And Winston saw Tre’Quan Smith streaking wide-open down the field and lobbed a bomb to him for a 56-yard score.

The officials initially threw a penalty flag on the play, but picked it up after agreeing that backup tackle James Hurst had indeed signaled he was an eligible receiver.

It’s bananas. It’s outlandish. It’s what we should have expected with the Saints backed up against the wall in their own building, down 10-6 to the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s only right that Winston should get a chance for sweet revenge against the team that gave up on him. And now the Saints are up again 13-10.

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WATCH: Deonte Harris opens Saints-Bucs with career-long punt return

New Orleans Saints WR Deonte Harris returned a Tampa Bay Buccaneers punt 54 yards to get QB Drew Brees and the offense in scoring position.

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How’s that for setting the tone? After his teammates on defense forced Tom Brady’s offense to punt on their opening possession, New Orleans Saints returns specialist Deonte Harris bounced off of initial contact and returned that punt 54 yards, deep into Tampa Bay Buccaneers territory. It was a new personal-best for the second-year pro, whose previous longest punt return went for 53 yards.

And he nearly followed up that act with something even better: a 67-yard touchdown return. Harris followed his blockers into the open field on the following punt and put Buccaneers punter Bradley Pinion into a difficult pursuit angle, knifing into the Tampa Bay end zone for six points. But a penalty on Saints backup Carl Granderson for a block in the back (wrongly attributed, at first, to cornerback Justin Hardee) wiped out the score.

Unfortunately, Harris later exited the game with a neck injury and was announced as questionable to return. He missed six weeks recovering from a previous neck injury, so it’s possible he aggravated it, but we just don’t know. Hopefully it isn’t anything serious.

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WATCH: Drew Brees, Saints huddle for maybe the last time at the Superdome

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees delivered a fiery pregame speech to his teammates before kickoff with the Buccaneers in the playoffs.

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Last one out, turn off the lights. The New Orleans Saints gathered around quarterback Drew Brees for a pregame speech before kickoff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it was more than their typical ritual.

This might be it for Brees. He’s closer to retirement than ever before, having assembled a Hall of Fame resume in hundreds of games for New Orleans. The end of the year is in sight for him and the Saints.

They have to leave it all out on the field tonight. They can’t afford a slow start or sloppy execution, even against a team they’ve already beaten twice this season. They shouldn’t lack for energy — let’s see if it translates into a win, with a trip to the NFC Championship Game and their Super Bowl LV hopes on the line.

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NFL Playoffs: How to watch, wager, and stream Saints vs. Bucs

The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready for a Divisional Round elimination game in the playoffs on Fox and WWL Radio.

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It’s all on the line. Everything: the 2020 season is going to end today for either the New Orleans Saints or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And no one is more acutely aware of that than Drew Brees, who could be lacing up his cleats for the last time in New Orleans with retirement on the horizon.

With any luck, the Saints will pull off the three-game sweep and advance for a conference title game with the Green Bay Packers. Here’s how you can tune in:


Sunday, Jan. 17 at 5:40 p.m. CT


Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, La.


Fox: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews & Tom Rinaldi

Live stream:

fuboTV (try it free)


WWL 870 AM and local affiliate stations


Shawn Hochuli


Saints by 2.5, over/under of 52.5 (BetMGM)

Game Preview:

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Winner of Saints vs. Buccaneers will advance to challenge Packers in the NFCCG

This year’s NFC Championship Game will see the Green Bay Packers host the winner of the New Orleans Saints’ playoff game with the Buccaneers

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The Los Angeles Rams’ No. 1-ranked defense turned out to be paper-thin, falling to pieces with standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald limited by his injured ribs. They didn’t challenge Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers much on Saturday afternoon in a 32-18 loss, ensuring that the road to Super Bowl LV runs through Lambeau Field.

That means the winner of Sunday’s matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers must hit the road next week. Bucs quarterback Tom Brady has some experience playing in the cold from his stint with the New England Patriots, while the Saints are 4-0 in games played in temperatures under 45 degrees Fahrenheit since 2017, per NewOrleans.Football’s Nick Underhill. Drew Brees has thrown 5 touchdowns without an interception and completed 65% of his passes in that span.

Tampa Bay dominated the Packers in their regular season tilt, winning 38-10 at home. The Saints lost to Green Bay 37-30 while hosting at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, but let’s not look too far ahead. Brady and his Buccaneers must be dealt with first. The Saints beat them twice in the regular season (first 34-23 and later 38-3, a combined score of 72-26) and are favored to do so again in the playoffs, but no one knows for sure how it’ll play out until both squads take the field. For what it’s worth, teams in the Saints’ position are 12-5 since 1982 in these third-game matchups.

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5 big questions for previewing Saints vs. Buccaneers

The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in for a rematch in the playoffs’ Divisional Round, with Tom Brady looking for payback.

The Divisional Round will be capped with a rematch between the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with so much on the line for Drew Brees and Tom Brady. While the Saints won both of their regular season meetings handily, this Bucs team has changed quite a bit in the months since their last matchup.

I wanted to get the latest information on what Tampa Bay has been up to, so I swapped a series of questions and answers with Luke Easterling over at Bucs Wire. Here’s what I learned:

NFL fines C.J. Gardner-Johnson $15K for unsportsmanlike conduct vs. Bears

New Orleans Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson was fined $15,000 for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Chicago Bears.

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New Orleans Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson took a big hit to his wallet on Saturday, per Amie Just of the Times-Picayune | Advocate. Just reported that Gardner-Johnson was fined $15,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct in his team’s win over the Chicago Bears in last week’s Wild-Card Round playoff game, following an incident in which Bears receiver Anthony Miller struck Gardner-Johnson as the pair chirped after a play.

Miller was fined $8,959 for throwing the punch. It might seem odd for the one who got physical to be punished less heavily than the person who was hit, but the NFL isn’t viewing this through the lens of assailants and victims. Instead, Gardner-Johnson was treated as a repeat offender, having already been fined before for unsportsmanlike conduct. Per league rules, fines escalate for subsequent offenses.

In total, Gardner-Johnson has racked up more than $35,000 in fines this year. Considering he’s only in the second year of his low-cost rookie contract, his weekly checks pay out to about $39,700. So he’s lost nearly a full game’s salary to fines.

But it’s working. He’s gotten multiple players thrown out of games just by virtue of his trash talk, which is remarkable. What is he saying that’s getting his opponents so hot under the collar?

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Saints announce uniform combo for playoff game vs. Bucs

The New Orleans Saints will wear black home jerseys and matching black pants for their playoff game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Dress for a funeral on Sunday. The New Orleans Saints announced that they will be pairing their black home jerseys with matching black trousers in their Divisional Round playoff game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

It’s fitting, given the single-loss elimination nature of the tournament. One team is going to advance further in the playoffs. The other will see their season end, burying their Super Bowl aspirations. Hopefully, it’ll be Tampa Bay going home defeated.

Here’s the win-loss records achieved in each of the different combinations used since Sean Payton was hired to coach the team back in 2006 (including the playoffs), ranking by win percentage:

  1. White jerseys, white pants: 6-2 (.750)
  2. “Color Rush” alternates: 8-3 (.727)
  3. “Black and Gold” throwbacks: 2-1 (.667)
  4. Black jerseys, gold pants: 23-13 (.639)
  5. White jerseys, black pants: 41-25 (.621)
  6. Black jerseys, black pants: 46-29 (.613)
  7. White jerseys, gold pants: 32-24 (.571)

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