On February 29, 2008 the Jets traded Vilma to the New Orleans Saints for a 4th round draft pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2009 draft. (ultimately a 3rd round pick).
Jets then-head coach Eric Mangini elected to start linebackers Eric Barton and David Harris instead, thus making Jonathan Vilma available.
In his first season with the Saints (2008), Vilma was a brightest spot on a otherwise weak defensive unit. Vilma played in all 16 games, and recorded 132 tackles with one sack.
On February 27, 2009, Vilma signed a 5 year, 34 million dollar contract with the New Orleans Saints, making him the main cog in a newly built defensive unit led by defensive coordinator Greg Williams.
Since his arrival in New Orleans, Jonathan Vilma has proven he is a true professional and worth every penny and the draft picks the Saints gave up for him.
After just 3 seasons with the Saints he has taken his and his teammates game to a new level of respectability, not seen in New Orleans since the days of the dredded Dome Patrol.
In his three seasons with the Saints Vilma has posted over 100 tackles each year (347 total), recorded seven sacks, forced 10 fumbles and intercepted five passes.