The Saints are currently $4.3 million over the NFL salary cap and are required to get under the $123 million cap by 4 p.m. ET today.
According to spotrac.com's calculations, the Saints are the only NFL team currently above the cap.
But it would seem that New Orleans has already addressed this issue with a proposal, and they are merely waiting for a decision to be made. As Mike Triplett of the Times-Picayune reported, the Saints have asked Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma to take pay cuts.
New Orleans Saints veterans Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma need to decide within the next 24 hours or so whether or not to accept pay cuts to stay with the Saints or ask to be released. Though we don't know the exact offers that are on the table, we do know that the Saints have made it clear that they value both players and would love to keep them at the right price.
If neither Will Smith nor Jonathan Vilma agree to a pay cut, the Saints could recover $7.8 million in cap space by cutting Smith and $6.1 million by cutting Vilma. If both were to be cut, the Saints would have approximately $9.6 million free under the salary cup.
While $9.6 million may not sound like much, consider that Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas and Curtis Lofton combined will account for less than a $9.6 million cap hit in 2013.
Technically, the Saints only need to cut one of the two players to come in under the cap. Yet it seems unlikely that the Saints would ask both players to accept a pay cut and, upon hearing their refusal, only cut one—leaving the other to enjoy his bloated contract.
The Saints' hesitation to cut Smith or Vilma is understandable under the circumstances.
The Who Dat Nation is joyfully welcoming home Sean Payton from a questionable suspension, and fans are beginning to mentally rally around the idea of Payton getting revenge on Goodell—by winning. Thus, it seems ironic that Payton would cut two of the most heavily accused players during the bounty allegations—Smith and Vilma—right before their glorious comeback.
However, as much as I would like their decision to be motivated by the burning desire to win, it's not. Currently, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma are talking to their agents and attempting to gauge their value in the free-agent market.
If they determine that they can get more money as a free agent, they'll refuse the pay cuts and be subsequently. Conversely, if they do not see a good opportunity to get more than the reduced salary the Saints are offering, Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma will reluctantly accept the pay reduction.
Due to this defensively-saturated market, I expect Smith and Vilma to each take pay cuts and return to the cash-strapped Saints.
We should know soon either way.