The Tennessee Titans signed Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year contract earlier on Sunday, but if the Saints had their way, they may have been able to pull off a unique move to get him.
The Saints were forced to get creative thanks to their salary cap issues, and according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett, they approached the league office with a proposal similar to the NBA’s sign-and-trade practice. Unfortunately for New Orleans, the league rejected the idea.
A source confirmed that the Saints explored the idea of a unique sign-and-trade deal with an unspecified team to help them fit Clowney’s salary under the cap, as the NFL Network first reported. However, the NFL said such a deal would not be allowed.
The idea was for another team to sign Clowney and pay his signing bonus — then immediately trade Clowney and his remaining salary to the Saints in exchange for a draft pick. The other team essentially would have been “buying” a draft pick, which the NFL has never allowed.
The NFL Network reported that the Saints were prepared to send a second-round pick and a player to the unspecified team. However, a source said it never reached the point of a finalized offer since they reached out to the league for permission first.
That the league nixed the deal isn’t a surprise; this move, had it been allowed, could have opened the door for a lot of convoluted cap moves that the NFL doesn’t really have an interest in dealing with. In the NBA it essentially serves as a “win-win-win”; the star player gets more money by signing a deal with his current team thanks to cap rules, the current team losing a star player gets compensated with picks or players, and the team adding the star gets, well, the star, along with possible cap relief. It’s not always balanced or ideal, but that’s the gist.
As the NFL has no similar mechanisms to Bird rights in the NBA, this was a lot more plainly an effort to get around the salary cap, and it would have set a precedent that could possibly be abused even further going forward. Still, as far as “weird financial ploys designed by the Saints” go, this one was relatively harmless.