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Kristian Garic

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Salary cap maneuvering: Big decisions for Vilma, Smith, Brees and Evans

It wasn’t a big surprise when we learned today that the Saints have asked LB Jon Vilma and DE Will Smith to restructure their contracts to help make room in the team’s salary cap. 
However, here’s a common misconception by some fans:   A players’ full salary is not the same total amount that counts against the salary cap.  For instance, Drew Brees will make $20 million this year, but the NFL salary cap formula shows that $17.4 million of that amount is what counts toward the cap. 
Will’s Smith’s cap # is not far behind:  $14.5 million.  Jon Vilma’s number is $8.68 million, and Jahri Evans’ cap # is $9.86 million. 
Players who agree to a restructuring don’t necessarily stand to lose money in the deal.  Take for instance Curtis Lofton, where he agreed to take a roster bonus and instead make it a “signing bonus” that would not count against the cap.  It’s almost like shuffling cash around in the “real world” to avoid taxes. 
Some fans have grumbled on social media that Drew Brees should also consider restructuring his deal to give the Saints some breathing room.  Drew almost certainly would not be taking a pay cut if he agreed to a restructuring.   
On the other hand, a restructuring for Vilma and Smith, on the back-end of their careers, will absolutely mean the two will agree to less money overall.  So, they have to choose between taking less cash for the guarantee of being with a contending team for at least one more season…or walking away without anything, and hoping to get picked up by another franchise.   
The clock is ticking.  The new league year starts March 12, and that is the date of the start of free agency...So, that's effectively the deadline for a decision to be made about restructured contracts. 
Will they stay or go?  I wouldn’t be surprised either way.  Of the two, my educated guess is that Smith is the more likely candidate of the two to stay.   At 31, Vilma has lost a step, and he’s said in the past that he’s not fond of the 3-4.  On the other hand, although Smith turns 32 this year, he would play a different role in this 3-4 scheme, and could be worked into the new defense a lot easier than Vilma. 

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People : Curtis LoftonDrew BreesJon VilmaWill Smith

02/18/2013 2:41PM
Salary cap maneuvering – Big decisions for Vilma, Smith, Brees and Evans
Please Enter Your Comments Below
02/18/2013 3:50PM
Cut em loose
Vilma and smith needs to disappear. Brees needs to restructure. And evans, when the hell the no saints ever payed an o-lineman big money?
02/18/2013 5:18PM
Don't Restructure, Cut 'Em Loose!
Not trying to sound cruel here, but Vilma and Smith don't have many more good years left between them, and might be able to help out another team. It would be rather selfish to keep them on at a reduced rate and a reduced role as well. (I just don't see Vilma starting as a OLB in the 3-4, by the way) We can stock up on younger talent through the draft and maybe get a bargain or two through free agency, but it's time to let some of the veterans go. A harsh reality, but necessary move to get under the salary cap.
02/18/2013 5:21PM
People I Can See Us Losing this Offseason...
I think we stand the possibilty of losing either Mark Ingram or Chris Ivory, as it's definitely a crowded backfield. (Still scratching my head as to why we kept 5 backs when we really only need 4 at most) Sedrick Ellis won't be resigned, and I think it's time to let Roman Harper go. We might lose Bushrod, but can stock up on offensive linemen in the draft. We will also lose either Vilma or Smith, but possibly both. It will be interesting to see what changes will be made, but here's hoping to a better season this year for the black and gold!
02/18/2013 9:25PM
fresh prince
I think will smith needs to go and.vilma needs to stay
02/19/2013 7:56AM
Vilma and Will wasn't the problem. Get rid of Harper, Ellis, and Shanle. And to be honest, I would ask Jenkins to take a pay cut, this would definetly be a make or break year for him. Patrick Robinson would have to take a pay cut, he is not a starting caliber corner, nickel maybe, but not a starter.
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