Saints notebook: Salary cap boost likely coming, ESPN reports

New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees drops back during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez) Show caption
New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees drops back during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Any Saints watching ESPN on Thursday most likely got their day brightened when the network reported the NFL may set its 2014 salary cap at $130 million.

That’s because, if the information checks out, the Saints will be further under the salary cap than first thought.

Until now, estimates pegged the cap at about $126 million. The Saints’ current cap figure is calculated to be about $125 million, according to ESPN.

Being $5 million under the cap would make things slightly easier for the Saints to accomplish their offseason goals, the biggest of which is freeing up enough money to re-sign All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a new long-term contract or, failing that, to use the franchise tag on him.

It’s anticipated that Graham, who spent most of his time in 2013 lining up out wide for the Saints, will file a grievance to be classified as a wide receiver and not as a tight end for the purposes of the franchise tag.

A franchise tag is likely to be worth about $5 million more for a wide receiver than for a tight end.

More than $10 million of the Saints’ cap figure for 2014 is “dead money,” dollars owed to players who are no longer on the roster because they retired, were cut or were traded. Most of that money is owed to Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer — high-priced defensive veterans who were released last week — and kicker Garrett Hartley, who was cut late last season.

Morstead: Donate blood

Saints punter Thomas Morstead plans to donate blood Friday to a local girl who has been battling leukemia since the summer, but his alone won’t be enough.

So he’s urging fans to head to Betsy’s Pancake House at 2542 Canal St. in Mid-City New Orleans between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday to give blood of any type to The Blood Center’s Bloodmobile, all of which will benefit 13-year-old Madison “Madi” Adams of Covington, whom Morstead befriended last year.

“Anybody that wants to make a great gift — that’s the gift of life for her,” Morstead said Wednesday night at the Pelicans-Knicks game at the Smoothie King Center. “And she’s going to need it.”

Madi was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in July, and she’s needed more than 30 blood transfusions while undergoing intense chemotherapy, according to her family.

She began a second phase of treatment at Children’s Hospital on Feb. 1, and it will require her to submit to chemo 18 consecutive days each month for four months. The plan is for her to then take daily doses of chemo that get smaller each day for two years.

The Blood Center is Children’s Hospital’s blood provider, and any donations Friday will help. Though Type O negative is especially sought, any kind of blood is welcome because Madi is what’s known as a universal receiver, Morstead said.

The goal is 25 donations, according to New Orleans firefighter Gino Ascani, a friend of Madi’s family and one of the blood drive’s organizers.

Blood donors must be at least 17 years old and in good health, and they must weigh a minimum of 110 pounds. Sixteen-year-olds weighing at least 130 pounds can donate with a signed parental consent form, a copy of which is available at thebloodcenter.org/files/chairperson/3.pdf. For more information about donor eligibility, visit thebloodcenter.org.