The New Orleans Saints are set to shed some big salaries. They are going to start with one of their most respected veteran players.
Linebacker/defensive end Will Smith will be released, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport, who cited a person with knowledge of the Saints' thinking. The news does not come as a surprise. The Saints kept Smith around at a bloated salary in 2013, and they were going to ask him to change positions after a few down seasons. Smith tore his ACL in August.
It's a disappointing end to an incredible 10-year run with the team. Smith was the organization's best pass rusher and most consistent defensive lineman for nearly a decade. When you drove by the Superdome, Smith was one of the few players featured on large banners advertising the team.
Like so many Saints, Smith's best season came in 2009. He had 13 sacks and started in all three postseason games during the team's Super Bowl run. He had a salary-cap number of $13.9 million in 2014, so this was a move the Saints had to make.
As for Jabari Greer, Rapoport described the cornerback's situation as "complicated." Greer's ACL tear makes him eligible for $1.05 million in injury protection benefits and, if cut, he might be in play for an injury grievance.
UPDATE: Executive vice president and general manager Mickey Loomis announced Wednesday that the Saints terminated the contracts of Jabari Greer, Roman Harper and Will Smith. The team also announced they will not re-sign Jonathan Vilma. Rapoport, who reported Harper's release earlier, said the move saves the Saints more than $2 million in cap space in 2014.