The first two cap casualties of the Saints' 2013 offseason were surprising.
TE David Thomas, 29, has been with the Saints since 2009 as a backup tight end, sometimes fullback and good all-around player. With seven touchdowns in four seasons, he wasn't a primary target but did have 35 catches for 356 yards in the Saints' 2009 season, including nine yard reception in Super Bowl XLIV that helped move the Saints to the Colts five yard line late in the game, two plays before a Brees' lead-taking touchdown pass to TE Jeremy Shockey.
That symbolizes Thomas as a valuable utility player in the Saints offense ever since, though rarely a primary receiving option. With injuries, Thomas was versatile enough to line up all over the field including as a lead blocker in the run game.
Releasing Thomas will save the Saints $1.5 million in cap space in 2013, though he will still account for roughly $700k of dead money in the final year of his contract.
Thomas could re-sign with the Saints, but releasing him so soon is a courtesy to allow him to field open market offers right now - Thomas doesn't have to wait until the free agent market opens on the afternoon of March 12, he is an unrestricted free agent now.
Thomas' release places developmental TE Michael Higgins as the #2 and only remaining tight end on the roster behind star TE Jimmy Graham, who has a looming contract negotiation.
Even more surprising is the termination of the rookie contract of CB Johnny Patrick, 24, a third round pick of the Saints in 2011. By no means did Patrick fail to earn his release, with his poor play in 2012 and a lack of progress in two seasons in the league. But Patrick was among the cheapest of warm bodies on the roster, playing through his third round draft pick rookie deal that would have paid him only $555,000 in base salary in 2013, with a small proration of his signing bonus.
Because Patrick has fewer than four seasons, he is now subject to waiver claims before hitting the open market.