The New Orleans Saints want to forget about the nightmare that was the 2012 season. They want to move on. In order to move on, they must change and improve their roster. The Saints coaches and personnel will be making some very important evaluations; it will be a very busy offseason for this team.
Football players come and go each season, switching teams, due to salary cap or because their performances do not justify their salary. Because of how things went sour this season for New Orleans, especially on the defense, some current Saints are on that chopping block and may not be donning the Black and Gold next season.
Let's take a look at a few Saints players on the chopping block.
A warrior and leader for the Saints defense for a long time, Jonathan Vilma looks like a shell of his former self. He did have a lot going on this season with his bounty litigation and a knee injury that sidelined him for the first five games, but he just hasn't looked effective in the games he did play.
Curtis Lofton will take over the Saints defense as the leader, and there will be no room for Vilma. Vilma will be owed $4.8 million next season, and with his decrease in level of play, it may not be worth it. Unless Vilma takes a pay cut—which would be ideal. His experience and knowledge would be helpful—as a result, Vilma may not come back.
Jonathan Vilma finished the 2012 season with 37 tackles, one interception and one sack.
The nine-year veteran has contributed to the Saints for a while, but WR Devery Henderson, a non-factor in 2012, disappeared for much of the past season.
He did make some plays, but not enough to make a serious contribution to the team. He finished the season with 22 receptions for 316 yards and a touchdown.
With his age and lack of production, Henderson may be seeing his last days as a New Orleans Saint. The Saints have too many weapons, and also, Joe Morgan has emerged as a possible replacement for Henderson.
Defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis was a major disappointment this 2012 season. His performance dramatically decreased, and it came at a very bad time: his contract year.
The Saints' major problem the 2012 season was their defense. They had trouble stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback. Ellis did not help the Saints in any way, and was part of the problem the Saints had.
Ellis did not make any noticeable plays, he couldn't shed his blockers, had difficulty stuffing runs and making the tackles. He finished the season with 36 tackles.
Will Smith's time is up as the Saints' starting defensive end. He's older, slower, and more importantly, less effective.
Smith is due $9 million next season, and it's something the Saints aren't going to pay the struggling defensive end. The Saints have salary cap problems going into the offseason, so trimming off that salary would greatly help the team as they can allocate that towards other needs they need to fix.
The salary owed is like elite pass-rusher money. Smith has not been playing like an elite pass-rusher, and he does not have elite pass-rusher statistics. He finished the season with 58 tackles and just six sacks.
The New Orleans Saints linebacker will most likely not be back with the Saints. The Saints phased Scott Shanle out of the defense this season, and I don't see him being re-signed.
He hasn't been effective, he's older, and he's slow—not something that will help the Saints' already ailing defense. Shanle finished the season with 21 tackles. As you can see, Shanle did not contribute much, and did not make any major impact on defense.
Defensive end Turk McBride was brought in as a situational pass-rusher. He was supposed to help the Saints and their pass-rushing problems, but ultimately he failed. He finished the season with just six tackles and a whopping zero sacks.
In 2012, McBride was non-existent. he did not contribute to anything and he will be cut loose this offseason.