Cap Casualties began for the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday, February 12, as four prominent players on the 2009 Super Bowl roster will no longer play in a Saints’ uniform. Jabari Greer, Roman Harper, and Will Smith have all been cut while Jonathan Vilma will not be re-signed. While most or all of these cuts were expected to happen within the coming weeks, we now know the future of these four players will not be with the Saints.
With New Orleans already over the cap, some changes were going to have to be made, especially if they wanted to re-sign players such as Jimmy Graham and Zach Strief. The four players have been vital to the Saints’ success for many years, but the NFL is a business and the money owed to these four players was far too much.
After suffering a gruesome ACL injury at the end of last season, Jabari Greer’s future was questionable at the age of 32. While Greer has been one of the Saints more productive cornerbacks in recent years, an injury at his age may bring questions of his ability to return.
Will Smith has been a fan favorite since his arrival in 2004. He was the longest tenured Saint on last season’s roster, but his time with New Orleans will finally come to an end. He was due close to $10 million this season which the Saints could no longer afford.
Roman Harper may have had his most successful seasons under former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. When Kenny Vaccaro was drafted last season, Roman Harper remaining with the Saints seemed like a distant idea. The Saints decided to give him one more year, but will move on with Vaccaro occupying one of the safety spots from here on out.
After coming over from the New York Jets, Vilma established his leadership role immediately. He was a pivotal part of New Orleans 2009 Super Bowl team’s defense. Coming off an injury plagued season, the Saints seem to have moved on, as they do not plan on re-signing Vilma for this coming season.
With these cuts, the Saints have freed up some cap room allowing them to be a bit more involved in the upcoming free agency period. This may just be the beginning of cuts as the Saints will be looking to lock up All-Star tight end Jimmy Graham. Both Jimmy Graham and the Saints front office would much rather get a deal done than use the franchise tag, so expect this to be in the first line of business following these cuts. For now though, these former impact players will be missed.