This is the time of year when many NFL teams begin to clean house. Veteran players are often shown the door and roster moves are made to clear cap space. The New Orleans Saints started that process in a big way on Wednesday by parting ways with some long-time team members.
Will Smith, Jabari Greer, and Roman Harper all had their contracts terminated, and it was announced that Jonathan Vilma will not be re-signed. Combined, those four players have spent 29 seasons with the Saints. Given that fact, I think it’s safe to call these moves the end of an era in New Orleans. Especially when you consider that all four players were a part of the Saints Super Bowl team.
GM Mickey Loomis summed up the team’s decision with this statement:
“These were not easy decisions to make. 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.”
Loomis would go on to explain that these moves were made to better position the Saints for the upcoming free agency period. So while it’s a sad day in some regards for Saints fans, they should take comfort in knowing that more than $16 million in salary has been taken off the books for 2014. The Saints can now go out and get younger and cheaper players to move forward with.
Can you just ‘replace’ veterans like the ones who were just shown the door? No, but these were all necessary business moves by the Saints.