With salary cap space still at a premium, the New Orleans Saints made another minor salary-conserving maneuver on Thursday by agreeing to restructured terms with Cornerback Keenan Lewis. Lewis, one of the better value signings of last season's free agent frenzy, has agreed to divert $4.5 million of his scheduled base salary into bonuses over the next two seasons.
A New Orleans native, Lewis was scheduled to earn $3.3 million in 2014, but that figure will now sink to just over $1 million. A similar effect will take place next season, with the rest of the money to be paid in roster bonuses over the next three years. The Saints managed to work out a somewhat similar deal with Running back Pierre Thomas recently, helping provide a slight cushion on the team's cap constraints. Keenan Lewis has agreed to restructured terms with the Saints.
Lewis had a good season in 2013, his first with New Orleans. Following a steady four year career as a Pittsburgh Steeler, Lewis settled in with his new team quickly and notched a career high four interceptions while also forcing a fumble. Lewis' responsibilities increased mid-season when Jabari Greer was lost for the year with a knee injury, which saw him often matched up on the opponent's best receiver for the remainder of the season.
The Saints are now just over $3 million under the cap, a figure which includes the recent re-signings of veteran receiver Joe Morgan and Linebacker Ramon Humber. While the big spending may be over after reeling in former Bills Safety Jairus Byrd and agreeing to a new deal with Right Tackle Zach Strief, the saints could still look to bring back Center Brian de la Puente and other members of last season's team. They have tendered restricted free agent Rafael Bush, while Parys Haralson could also be brought back at the right price. There is also the impending negotiating saga with franchised Tight End Jimmy Graham waiting in the wings.
Keenan Lewis did not necessarily take a pay cut, nor should he have felt compelled to do such following his on-field impact in 2013. He simply agreed to shift money around in his deal to help maximize the Saints' precious cap space with an eye on further enhancing the roster for another postseason run in 2014. That is the kind of team player Mickey Loomis and Sean Payton want to keep around in their organization, and Lewis is willing and able to help place his team in the best possible position to challenge for another Lombardi trophy. Lewis reached the Super Bowl during his second season in Pittsburgh, but fell short as the Green Bay Packers emerged victorious. He is certainly putting in the work both on and off the field to return to that big stage.