Teams are scrambling back and forth, looking at their rosters to see where they can cut and save money before the 2013 league cap is announced. When it comes to situations like these, well, nobody is really safe. The franchise you work for is going to do what is best for the franchise, it’s just business.
The New Orleans Saints are reportedly looking to reach out to linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, to see if they can restructure their current contracts.
Both players were involved in the infamous bounty scandal that took headlines by storm last season, which resulted in head coach Sean Payton to be suspended the entire year. Payton who served his suspension, returns to the New Orleans Saints next season under the same position.
Both Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith were also suspended last season along with Sean Payton and former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita. Smith was suspended four games, while Vilma and Payton were suspended the entire season, but Vilma’s suspension was later lifted.
With the hiring of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints plan to transition to the 3-4 defense. Vilma who was drafted by and played for the New York Jets, was pushed out of the organization after then head coach Eric Mangini determined he didn’t quite fit their scheme.
Head Coach Sean Payton spoke out on Jonathan Vilma, a prototype 4-3 middle linebacker saying:
“I think the way that we’re going to run this defense and the type of 3-4 that we’re running will be such that you saw in Dallas or Houston. There will be some under defensive principles to it. Some reduction, which means that the left guard and weak guard for the offense will be covered at times, and I think that will help a guy like Jon Vilma as opposed to the traditional two-gap 3-4 front that many Giants fans knew back when Bill Parcells was there.” – via ESPN.com
Jonathan Vilma is set to make $6 million in his final year of his contract, when it comes to Will Smith, he is due $10.15 million for the year. The New Orleans Saints are currently $13.5 million over the salary cap, which was before linebacker Curtis Lofton had his contract restructured himself. So it looks like the Saints are looking to restructure deals with key players, rather then letting them go and sign somewhere else.
Let’s take a quick look at that Lofton contract that was restructured and see what these new numbers could look like for Vilma and Smith. Lofton was due $7.1 million for the 2013 season, but the New Orleans Saints managed to drop that down to around $3 million. So if Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith do in fact restructure their deal, Vilma who was due to make $6 million would probably drop down to around $2 or $3.5 million. Will Smith would probably go from $10.5 million to maybe anywhere around or between $5 million to $7.5 million. But is he willing to take that big of a cut?
Payton also believes that Smith can adjust to the new scheme they will be running this upcoming season. The 2006 pro bowler has been a key part of their defensive front line ever since coming into the league in 2004. Both players were on the winning Super Bowl roster in 2009-2010, where Smith started 16 games, 49 tackles, 13 sacks, 1 interception and 3 forced fumbles. Vilma started 15 games, recording 110 tackles, 2 sacks and 3 interceptions.
The New Orleans Saints want them back, but for less money. The ball is in their court, now we have to just sit back and see what they will do with it. Take their pay cut and return to New Orleans, or part ways and join a list of other key players to franchises who were cut to save cap space. At the end of the day, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business. But if the Saints do get them to restructure, business is definitely good.