The Steelers are carrying what is believed to be the biggest dead cap number ever this year, with the Antonio Brown trade triggering a $21.12 million hit for 2019. Come 2020, the Saints may top that.
The restructuring of quarterback Drew Brees‘ contract, which reduces his 2019 cap number from $33.5 million to $22.7 million, pushes $10.8 million in cap dollars to 2020.
That’s how these so-called simple restructurings work. Cap dollars get pushed from the current year into future years, with the player’s compensation remaining unchanged. Because there is only one year left under Brees’ contract, the $10.8 million created this year can go to only one spot: 2020.
Coupled with the cap dollars that already were on the books for 2020 ($10.5 million), Brees’ cap number will be $21.3 million, whether he’s on the team or not.
Thus, if he retires or signs elsewhere, Brees will count for $21.3 million. If he stays, anything he makes as of next year will be added to the $21.3 million cap charge.
So if he re-signs for, say, one year and $20 million, his cap number for 2020 would be $41.3 million.
The more likely outcome, if Brees returns for another year, would be a multi-year deal that drives dollars into future years. Still, the Saints at some point will have to rip off the Band-Aid regarding the dead money that continues to apply under Brees’ name. If the Band-Aid comes off next year, the Saints will have $21.3 million less to sign other players due to a player who is no longer in New Orleans.