The New Orleans Saints have three weeks to get under the 2013 salary cap. Linebacker Curtis Lofton has already restructured his deal to help the team out, but the Saints will have to find more ways to save if they want to be in good cap shape.
Aug 28, 2011; Oakland CA, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (51) leaves the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at the O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Restructuring existing player contracts is one of the best methods of acquiring cap space in the off season. Eight-year defensive men Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith, appear to be the next players up to have their contracts restructured.
The Saints were $13.5 million over the cap as of February 15th. If the Saints cannot restructure either of their contracts, both could become a liability.
Vima is owed $6 million next year and will be in the final year of his contract with the Saints. Head coach Sean Payton would love to see Vilma back in the new 3-4 defense being installed for next year, so the Saints have a good incentive to negotiate with him.
Smith is the heavier price tag as he is owed $10.15 million next year. Smith has been a big contributor to the Saints defensive line in the past and would most likely make the transition to the 3-4 defense as well.
Pro Football Focus rated him as the second worst 4-3 defensive end this past season, so you have to wonder how practical it is for the Saints to want to keep him around. They would free up about $7.7 million by releasing him which is a sizable chunk of that $13.5 million figure.