The chum will soon be in the water, signalling the start of the annual NFL feeding frenzy.
Monday, all 32 teams are permitted to enter into negotiations with representatives of upcoming unrestricted free agents. Beginning at 3 p.m. next Wednesday, players and teams can enter into contractual agreement.
Saints officials have spent the past month or so deflating their inflated salary cap to (1) comply with league rules and (2) put themselves in the best position possible to improve their roster.
Some teams will burst mightily from the starting gate and make a big splash early in free agency. Others will be less aggressive but fill immediate needs. Still others will bide their time and brace for the long haul.
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Free agency can be a sprint for some, a marathon for others. I suspect the Saints, who stand approximately $10.5 million under the 2016 salary cap as of today, will use the full complement of time to make the necessary adjustments to their 7-9 team of a year ago.
Their first acquisition could come as early as Tuesday when free agent linebacker James Laurinaitis is scheduled to visit New Orleans. He is eligible to sign early because of his outright release by St. Louis on Feb. 29. His release freed up nearly $6 million in cap space.
Laurinaitis, 29, could play strongside linebacker in Dennis Allen's 4-3 defense or play inside in a 3-4 scheme.
Though not missing a start since being selected in the second round of the 2009 draft by the St. Louis Rams, Laurinaitis has played hurt the past two seasons and produced below expectations.
"Laurinaitis still has some tread left on his tires," a St. Louis-based source said. "He's not the fastest guy, and not a thumper. But he's smart, productive, durable. He played this past year basically with one arm due to an elbow injury. He was slowed by a nagging foot injury much of 2014. But he hasn't missed a start his entire career. He rarely misses a snap."
Laurinaitis is represented by super agent Tom Condon, who also happens to represent Saints quarterback Drew Brees, the owner of the NFL's No. 1 cap hit of $30 million.
We have been led to believe by all parties -- Saints GM Mickey Loomis, coach Sean Payton and even No. 9 himself -- that a more-cap-friendly deal will be worked out in the foreseeable future that features a lower base salary and a hefty signing bonus pro-rated over the course of the new contract.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently agreed to a two-year contract extension that stretches through the 2019 season when he will be 42.
It appears Brady gave the Patriots a hometown discount.
I suspect "hometown discount" is not a term Condon will use on Brees' behalf during negotiations with Saints officials. I suspect Brees, 37, ultimately will settle on a new deal that represents a lower cap hit this season. But it likely will feature a mega-million signing bonus that still pays him closer to "market value."
That's today's NFL.
Let the games begin.