At the end of the week, the Saints snuck in a no-announcement restructuring and extension for veteran strong safety Roman Harper.
The move has drastically improved the Saints' salary cap situation, opening up $3.44 million in 2013 cap space.
Harper took a pay cut in upcoming salaries in exchange for an immediate signing bonus and a one-year extension. The Saints were able to prorate that signing bonus across the three seasons of the new contract, almost halving his 2013 cap hit from $7.1 million to $3.66 million.
In exchange for reducing his salaries, Harper received a large portion of his 2013 salary guaranteed - which assures him that despite the team using a first round pick on Texas S Kenny Vaccaro, Harper will be a Saint in 2013.
The Saints are still projected to be in one of the worst 2014 cap situations in the league, so Harper's contract-to-performance ratio will need to be high to justify his cap value next offseason.
UPDATE: Harper received a $2.91 million signing bonus as part of the new contract, plus a $100,000 workout bonus, and will earn a base salary of $840,000 in 2013. In 2014, Harper will earn a base salary of $2.35 million (down from $6 million under the previous deal), with $800,000 in bonuses. In 2015, the new year of the deal, Harper will earn a base salary of $2.7 million with $800,000 in bonuses. His cap figures will be $3.66 million in 2013, $5.87 million in 2014 and $4.47 million in 2015.