Whether by termination or restructuring, the Saints will need to drop at least $6 million in salary cap allocation today. The 3pm CDT deadline begins the new league year and when that begins, all teams must be under the salary cap for 2013 contracts.
Changes are expected to the contract statuses of DE Will Smith and MLB Jonathan Vilma, who combine for $23.1 million in 2013 cap space.
According to ESPN, cutting both would free $13.7 million but leave $9.4 million in dead cap value for 2013, so the Saints have all the incentive to attempt to restructure their deals. Keeping both on the roster at a cap value of $4-5 million each would essentially be a huge win for the Saints, even if neither of them project well to the 3-4 system.
Smith and WR Devery Henderson are the longest tenured Saints on the roster, and the only pre-Sean Payton draft picks on the roster. Henderson will be a free agent this afternoon.
SS Roman Harper, RB Pierre Thomas and LB Will Herring are also candidates for contract restructure or release.
Six other Saints have already restructured their deals to lower their 2013 cap value, including DT Brodrick Bunkley, WR Marques Colston, starting guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, and new starting inside linebackers David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton.