Per Spotrac, the 30-year-old veteran was due $4.1 million in base salary and would have been a $5.9 million cap hit with bonuses over the final two years of his contract.
Ellerbe appeared in only six games for the Saints this past season due to injuries and made four starts, recording 39 combined tackles, one pass defensed and one forced fumble.
New Orleans could have used more of Ellerbe on the field in 2015, as its defense was abysmal, ranking 31st against the pass and run and dead-last in points allowed.
As positive as his impact was when he was healthy, Ellerbe didn't have much leverage in terms of resorting to a restructured deal. He appeared in just one game for the Miami Dolphins in 2014 due to a hip injury and has never played a full 16 games in one season.
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The Dolphins traded Ellerbe to the Saints in the swap involving wide receiver Kenny Stills this past March.
Ellerbe showed flashes of becoming a star at the beginning of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, but he needs to step up in 2016 and would do well to earn one more NFL payday if he can stay on the field more often.
Stephone Anthony and Hau'oli Kikaha were first- and second-round picks last year, respectively, and will hopefully show improvement in their second seasons. Having a seasoned pro like Ellerbe to mentor them ought to help their developments.
If Ellerbe can emulate the impact he had at the end of his stint in Baltimore, where he was a key contributor on the Ravens' Super Bowl XLVII-winning team, the Saints may have a tremendous bargain on their books with his contract.