Heading into the offseason, the New Orleans Saints were approximately $20 million over the estimated $120 million 2013 salary cap. Although they already saved $4 million by restructuring linebacker Curtis Lofton’s deal, there’s still plenty more salary to unload before they’re under the cap.
The Saints made another attempt at lowering their 2013 numbers on Monday when they asked defensive end Will Smith, one of the veteran defenders caught up in the “BountyGate” scandal, to take a pay cut.
Currently about $13.5 million over the cap after Lofton converted $5 million of his roster bonus to a signing bonus, the Saints must save money on some of their aging veterans’ contract. Seeing as Smith is set to make $10.15 million in 2013, his contract is a prime candidate for restructuring.
According to Jason LaCanfora, Smith will be expected to accept a “big reduction” in order to stay with the Saints this upcoming season. The career 4-3 defensive end is already facing a tough move to 3-4 defensive end, and has seen a significant drop in effectiveness as the tread continues to wear thin.
Considering their current financial situation and Smith’s declining production, this is a restructure-or-so-long kind of situation. Unless Smith is willing to accept a contract that’s minuscule by comparison, there’s a good chance that he’ll be on his way out of New Orleans this offseason. He has become a liability on one of the NFL’s worst defenses, and is no longer worth the hefty price tag or disappointment.
In the end, the Saints’ best option is severing ties and moving on from Smith. It’s the next step in a new direction for New Orleans.