The New Orleans Saints are projected to be over the salary cap this offseason, so there are going to be some major cuts ahead. It sounds like Mickey Loomis and the Saints will be getting started sooner rather than later, as the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that defensive end Will Smith is set to receive his walking papers today.
Releasing Smith is a move that definitely wouldn’t come as a surprise, but it would be beyond shocking for Smith to actually stay around in 2014. He hasn’t been effective for several seasons now, and he doesn’t really fit what the Saints do on defense under Rob Ryan. Even though they ran more 4-3 sets than 3-4 sets, Ryan still clearly prefers to have speedy edge rushers lining up outside, so the pass rushers fit the mold of 3-4 OLBs more than 4-3 DEs. Smith is a pure, in-the-trenches kind of 4-3 DE, and he also isn’t good enough to stick around at that price tag.
It’s pretty crazy to think that Smith is set to make $13.9 million next season if retained, and that’s just a whopping sum of cash for a guy who is a woefully ineffective pass rusher at this stage. He’s an obvious cut for the Saints to make, and it will be interesting to see who else gets released. It sounds like a few big moves will come down the pipes today, and the Saints certainly aren’t worried about cutting ties with overpriced vets, even if they are names as big as Roman Harper. These guys need to cut off the fat in a bad way, because they still have to worry about keeping Jimmy Graham and can’t afford to run into cap issues. Smith is an easy cut, but we’ll see if any tougher ones follow.