The New Orleans Saints will restructure defensive end Will Smith’s contract to create salary cap relief, a league source confirmed.
Reports say that the restructured deal “could be done today.”
Will Smith was the highest paid player on the Saints roster in 2011, scheduled to make $7 million in base salary this season, plus a $1 million roster bonus and $150,000 workout bonus. His salary cap hit would have been $10.15 million.
A good portion of Will Smith’s 2012 salary will likely be turned into signing bonus, which will allow him to make the same amount of money next season but save the Saints money in the salary cap department.
In 2008, Smith signed the New Orleans Saints largest franchise contract in history for six-years worth $61.4 million. $25 million guaranteed, 12 million worth in signing bonus, plus $3 million worth of incentives.
He is scheduled to become an an unrestricted free agent in 2015.
In 2011, Will Smith record 35 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
There were talks that the Saints could potentially release the 30 year old out of Ohio State in order to free up cap space.
Will Smith understands the business stand point of the game and has done his part to put his own ego aside and do what he has to do to keep the team together and put them in the best situation to bring another Lombardi Trophy to the City of New Orleans.
With contracts struggling with quarterback Drew Brees, no talks with guard Carl Nicks, and limited talk with wide receiver Marques Colston, this is a no brainer for the Saints.
This will free up room to strike a long term deal with Drew Brees before the franchise tag period ends on Monday, March 5th, which will allow the franchise tag to be applied elsewhere.
The NFL still hasn’t released its official salary cap number for 2012, which many teams could be waiting for before they finalize contracts.
As of the beginning of this week, the Saints were about $15 million under the projected salary cap of about $120 million, including $4.2 million of space carried over from last season.
The Saints can also “borrow” $2 million from the NFL from future years should they desire.
The Saints have signed wide receiver Adrian Arrington at to a one year $540k contract and this week have given exclusive rights one year contracts worth $540k, to S Jonathan Amaya (acquired via Reggie Bush trade) and LS Justin Drescher.
Rumor has circulated the internet that the Saints were looking to retain Brees with offers of between $20 million and $21 million. However Brees agent, Tom Condon, has reportedly been requesting $24 million for his client.
SI.com draft analyst Tony Pauline previously indicated that the rumor around the NFL Scouting Combine was that New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston is seeking $7 million a season.
Re-structuring Will Smith’s contract alone would allow the Saints to re-sign quarterback Drew Brees and possibly wide receiver Marques Colston.
Guard Carl Nicks has gone public on the social media site Twitter, informing people that he doesn’t want to get franchise tagged.
However, this may be the best bet for the New Orleans Saints because it allows them more time to negotiate with the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent to give him the long term, record setting deal he wants.
Restructuring this deal is exactly what the New Orleans Saints needed in order to boost contract talks with Drew Brees, who is expected to become the highest paid quarterback in NFL history.
This restructure could very well mean that the Saints are coming to an agreement with Drew Brees to finalize his contract.
Will Smith, who is a team captain for the New Orleans Saints, has shown his leadership by doing this for the team.
Should an agreement not be reached by Monday, March 5th on the Brees deal, the Saints are prepared to apply the franchise tag on him.