Unlike the Cowboys, Steelers, Chargers and Rams, the New Orleans Saints got to work before the 2014 league year began. On Feb. 13, general manager Mickey Loomis slashed the Saints’ salary. He cut four members of their 2009 championship team: defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Jabari Greer.
"These were not easy decisions to make," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement, per Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. "Since we acquired them, Jabari, Roman, Will and Jonathan have all been excellent players on the field for us. Each of them were integral parts in turning this program around and winning a Super Bowl. They were a great example to our players as team leaders in the locker room as well.”
Those four cuts brought the team’s cap number down to $125,317,010, which is $7,182,990 above the current salary cap floor. Fortunately, the Saints have the opportunity to garner even more cap space from now until the start of free agency. Considering tight end Jimmy Graham’s impending contract extension, they will need it.
The next player the Saints should part ways with is wide receiver Lance Moore. As good as Moore has been for New Orleans over the years, Kenny Stills put together a fine rookie season and will look to build upon it once his snap count increases.
Furthermore, Moore will be 31 years old in August and is due $5,068,750 in 2014. For a guy who only played 452 snaps in 2013, there’s no way he performs well enough to command that much money. By giving him his walking papers, New Orleans would save $2,531,250 against the cap.
Another player the Saints should consider cutting is running back Darren Sproles. Yes, he means a lot to their offense, yet there’s going to come a time when Khiry Robinson needs to find his way onto the field. And head coach Sean Payton sure talked him up after the team’s playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles, via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com:
I was proud of how he finished. I thought ball security was never in doubt. [That was] strong. He's powerful. For a guy that was at a tryout camp, basically, and even after having him we almost didn't bring him back to training camp, obviously he has progressed and done a great job. It was a big night for him.
At 31 years of age, Sproles is set to make $4.25 million in 2014. Only $750,000 is considered dead money, so the Saints need to do what’s right and use the $3.5 million they would save if they released him on Graham’s extension.