The Saints got under the salary cap at the beginning of the 2013 NFL league year by a number of moves. Over the cap by $5.3 million going into the new league year, the Saints shed cap space with the following moves.
According to Larry Holder of the Times-Picayune, the Saints were able restructure the contracts of both DE Will Smith and LB Jonathan Vilma, and remain on the roster for now.
OLB Will Herring was also cut, creating $1.6 million in 2013 cap space. Herring never broke into the starting lineup as planned in 2011 when he was the first free agent signing for the team after the CBA delayed free agency into late July.
Herring wrote on Twitter, "Thankful for my time with the Saints, my teammates, and their incredible fans!!"
A large number of Saints also became free agents at 3pm on Tuesday, including starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas, backup quarterback Chase Daniel, starting defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, veteran wide receiver Devery Henderson, linebacker Ramon Humber, cornerback Elbert Mack, defensive end Turk McBride, cornerback Johnny Patrick, offensive tackle William Robinson, wide receiver and special teamer Courtney Roby, outside linebacker Scott Shanle and tight end David Thomas.
UPDATE: The Saints reduced Smith's cap number by $6 million by reducing his base salary from $9 million to $3 million for 2013, the second to last year of his contract. Smith will now count $8.5 million against the Saints' 2013 cap. In 2014, the final year of Smith's six-year, $70 million 2008 contract, his salary is unchanged at $10.4 million. Smith also restructured that deal last May to help the 2012 Saints, a move that necessitated his 2013 voluntary salary cut.
Smith wrote on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, "Loyalty is Everything."
The Saints reduced Vilma's cap figure from $8.6 million to roughly $3.8 million by slashing his 2013 base salary from $4.8 million to $1 million. Vilma is in the final year of his contract, which was a five year, $34 million deal signed days after the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. Vilma also voluntary erased a $1.1 million roster bonus due tomorrow.
Between the two deals, the Saints saved nearly $11 million in cap space. Both Smith and Vilma would have still cost the Saints significant cap space had they been cut. Vilma will not appear on the Saints' books in 2014, while Smith will face another cut-or-restructure proposition in the offseason.
The Saints reportedly now have around $7.8 million in cap space.