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Saints LB David Hawthorne to replace Curtis Lofton, per Sean Payton

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While the annual NFL owners meetings continue in Phoenix, AZ, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton spoke with the media Wednesday morning on several topics.

One subject brought up was the decision to part ways with inside linebacker Curtis Lofton, who will be replaced by David Hawthorne, according to Payton.

Basically, Hawthorne, a favorite by many to be a cap casualty, agreed to take a pay cut — Lofton did not.  Disagreement surfaced when Payton told Lofton he wanted more production out of him in certain areas of his game and would be required to take a 30 percent reduction.

According to Payton, releasing Curtis Lofton was a business decision.  The Saints were set to take a cap hit of over $9 million from him in 2015.  Payton said keeping him did not make financial sense.

With Lofton gone, David Hawthorne will take over linebacker duties at the Mike spot.  “Essentially to some degree the market fluctuates within our game with contracts,” Payton said.  “We felt like an inside linebacker was going to be someone we definitely had as a must.

“We didn’t know if it would be a Mike or Will.  I do feel like Dannell Ellerbe has played both and has that flexibility.  I do see him playing the Will and having us put Hawthorne back at Mike.  With Curtis, there was obviously ‘X’ amount of dollars to be made.  We felt that was going to be the best way to go.”

For now, it looks to be Hawthorne and Ellerbe manning the middle of the linebacker unit, but I’m willing to bet the New Orleans Saints take a look in the upcoming draft, specifically in the earlier rounds.  With nothing set in stone, it will be tough to pass on some of the young, enticing prospects that make up this year’s rookie class.

Next: The case for Tim Lelito as the next Saints guard

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