On Wednesday, head coach Sean Payton announced that the New Orleans Saints had placed linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the season-ending Injured Reserve list. Vilma played just over 10 snaps last week against the New York Jets in the Saints’ 26-20 loss at Met Life Stadium in a largely backup role after having been on the short-term Injured Reserve since the preseason following a procedure for his left knee.
Vilma was acquired by the Saints from the Jets after an offseason trade in 2008. He also served as a team captain from 2009-12 and was a prominent, leading figure for New Orleans’ defenses ever since. According to Neworleanssaints.com he has started in 68 of 70 games played over five years and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He has posted 530 tackles, eight sacks, six interceptions, seven fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles since becoming a member of the Saints organization.
It is unclear what the future and next season have in store for Vilma, as New Orleans’ defense is currently undergoing a youth movement under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan with the likes of Cameron Jordan, Kenny Vaccaro and others. The 31-year-old has a lingering knee problem and the contract he signed earlier this year is set to expire at the end of the season.
My guess is that he will no longer be a member of the Saints come the 2014 NFL season. This is not necessarily a bad thing and is not totally unexpected. NFL football is a young man’s game and turnover is often high. It is far better for him to end his career on a high note as opposed to having it ended last year, amidst the Bounty Gate snafu.
So while Vilma’s future is uncertain, we should all take a moment to thank him for being a leader and a player for New Orleans. His contributions have been priceless and he will surely be missed.
Whatever the future may hold, Mr. Vilma, I wish you good luck and best wishes.