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The New Orleans Saints' annual effort to get salary cap compliant ahead of the new league year has begun. According to ESPN, the Saints will restructure the contract of quarterback Derek Carr, converting a significant portion of his base salary into a signing bonus in order to spread out the cap hit and save the team approximately $23 million on the books.

The four-year, $150 million contract that contained $100 million in guarantees Carr signed last offseason was seemingly designed to be restructured, with the Saints giving him much larger base salaries in 2024 through 2026 than the one he took in 2023 ($1.5 million), as well as tacking three void years onto the end of the contract. 

In his first season with New Orleans, Carr largely performed at the level we have become accustomed to seeing from him. He was around league average in most passing categories, and was largely risk-averse and reluctant to push the ball downfield. New Orleans' offense accordingly checked in near the middle of the pack in most categories: 14th in yards, ninth in points, 17th in FTN's DVOA, 12th in TruMedia's version of EPA/play. 

Turning 33 years old at the end of March, Carr is under contract for three more seasons. The $23 million the Saints shave off of this year's cap figure will be pushed into those future years (and the aforementioned void years), making it even more difficult to cut ties with Carr in the future. (He'd carry a $50 million dead cap hit if released prior to 2025, for example, according to Spotrac.)

The Saints entered the offseason a league-high $76.5 million over the cap and will need to make several more moves in order to free up the requisite space to operate in 2024. There are very few players whose release would afford the Saints significant savings in the immediate term, so expect to see more things like restructures, extensions, and post-June 1 cuts so they can appropriately massage themselves into cap compliance.